SEQUIM – The Olympic Peninsula Humane Society has seen a dramatic increase in the number of dog owner rebate applications received over the past five weeks, OPHS officials said.
All of the dogs are young, born during the COVID-19 pandemic, and most have behavioral issues, they said.
“We’ve certainly had waves of surrender before, but lately it feels like a tsunami,” said Luanne Hinkle, executive director of the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society (OPHS).
A representative from the Humane Society of Jefferson County said he was not experiencing a similar increase.
Office manager Justine Parr said the OPHS typically receives two to three requests for cat and dog remissions per week, and that has risen to an average of six per week. The increase concerns all dogs.
In a two-week period, 11 dog abandonments were scheduled. Hinkle said 40% of the contributions are owner buyouts.
There are more requests than space at the shelter or in foster care, OPHS officials said.
“We’re saving surrenders until the second week of May,” Parr said.
“We need to space them out so we can find homes and make room for the dogs that are coming,” Parr added.
She said many dogs suffer from separation anxiety because they were undersocialized as puppies. They are afraid of strangers, not used to being alone, may not have been introduced to other types of animals, and may be fearful or aggressive towards other dogs.
Many of them “didn’t know little kids,” she said, and may be overexcited and upset or scared.
They may also have trouble calming down and need more exercise, Parr said.
“We teach them skills to vent energy,” she said, “and take them for walks.”
OPHS staffers know how to deal with giddy surrenders, Parr said.
“For the first week, they are depressed,” she says. “If they’re really shy, we make sure to give them space when they need it and attention when they need it.”
Hinkle and Parr said the OPHS still needs more foster families to help with the dogs, as well as volunteers at the shelter.
“As long as we have foster homes open, we can take in more dogs,” Parr said. “Unfortunately, we have not received a good response to our recent request for more host families.”
“We really need foster families who are willing to help, even if it’s only for a week or so,” Hinkle said. “The shelter is not the best place for an animal because it is noisy and stressful. Their true personalities shine through when they’re in foster care, and adoptions happen faster because of it.
For those interested in homestay, visit ophumanesociety.org/foster-program.
There’s a nationwide phenomenon of “COVID puppies” — or “pandemic puppies,” as they’re called — being sent back to shelters as people transition from working from home to working outside the home, but the he increase in Clallam County is in contrast to neighboring counties.
Jefferson County did not experience the large number of surrenders, and the Kitsap Humane Society reported a slight decrease.
“One reason for this may be due to our Cross Posting Relocation Support Program, which we offer pet owners as an alternative to handing over their pet to our shelter,” said Sarah Moody-Cook, director. animal welfare at the Kitsap facility.
“We currently have 20 pets in the care of our Cross Posting program.”
Moody-Cook said: “Because our cross-posting program is digital-based, we’re happy to offer it to pet owners outside of Kitsap if they need help finding their pet. ”
More details on this option can be found at kitsap-humane.org/resources/surrendering-your-pet.
Parr said people should be very careful when rehoming their pets online. If they do and find a potential adopter, “ask lots of questions,” she said, and don’t hand the dog over to someone who raises red flags.
Those who want to adopt from the OPHS will find that “our adoption fees are quite low,” Parr said. “They come with up-to-date, neutered or neutered vaccines and a free first trip to the vet.”
OPHS has an inexpensive spaying and rabies and distemper vaccination program at ophumanesociety.org/spay-neuter-assistance-program-snap.
For more information on the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society, visit ophumanesociety.org.