There’s a drastic increase in lost pets coming into animal shelters in Santa Barbara County
There’s a 46% increase from this time a year ago.
One year ago, the three animal services shelters in Santa Barbara County received 260 lost pets in the month. This year, that’s risen drastically to 381 lost pets for the same month.
"We've not ever seen this drastic of a jump before. It's heartbreaking," said Sarah Aguilar, Director of Animal Services for Santa Barbara County.
It’s a complex problem because not all animals being brought in as strays may actually be so, explained Aguilar.
"When COVID started we had more first time pet owners than ever before," said Aguilar.
"People are having to make tough decisions," she said, citing the difficulties and expense in accessing veterinary care as one of many financial reasons people may relinquish a pet to the shelter.
She said she thinks some owners find it easier to claim an animal is a stray rather than telling the shelter it's their own pet, to avoid any stigma in relinquishing a pet.
Aguilar emphasized that the shelter is not there to judge, or turn them away, and said that knowing the reasons for giving up a pet can help them find a suitable new home.