Community can help alleviate pandemic-induced animal shelter crisis

  • Dana, a beautiful pit bull mix, has had a lengthy stay at Orphans of the Storm (OOTS) and is ready for adoption. Dana is joined by Danielle Pollack, DVM, (left) who adopted a dog that was in the shelter for months, and Kristen Tump, Shelter Manager and Event Coordinator, OOTS, located in Deerfield, IL.Orphans of the Storm, Deerfield, IL

    Dana, a beautiful pit bull mix, has had a lengthy stay at Orphans of the Storm (OOTS) and is ready for adoption. Dana is joined by Danielle Pollack, DVM, (left) who adopted a dog that was in the shelter for months, and Kristen Tump, Shelter Manager and Event Coordinator, OOTS, located in Deerfield, IL.Orphans of the Storm, Deerfield, IL

 
 
Updated 7/20/2022 10:42 AM

The animal welfare industry has been in crisis over the last year. With staffing and veterinarian shortages, coupled with the increases in returns, surrenders, and abandonments, and decreases in adoption rates, shelters are seeing record setting capacity levels.

Pets returned to a shelter sometimes have a harder time finding a new home, as potential owners worry there are behavioral or health issues with a dog or cat.

 

"With capacity levels high, dogs needing more specific homes are constantly being overlooked, especially large size dogs," said Kristen Tump, Shelter Manager and Event Coordinator, Orphans of the Storm (OOTS), animal shelter, 2200 Riverwoods Rd, Deerfield, IL. Visit: https://orphansofthestorm.org/

The Animal Shelter Crisis 2022

"The Omicron surge has dramatically increased the strain on shelters by creating staffing shortages that limit shelter hours, decrease in-person volunteers, and reduce adoption events and pet care support," said Julie Castle, CEO, Best Friends Animal Society, a leading animal welfare organization.

There are 100,000 more shelter pets at-risk of being killed now than this this time last year due to the pandemic problem. Visit: https://bestfriends.org/about/media/shelter-crisis-2022

On a local level, Kristen Tump addresses several questions for community residents about the animal shelter crisis and how it is reflected at Orphans of the Storm and other local shelters.

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How do you encourage the community to visit and adopt or foster these animals?

We urge the community to consider opening their home to an animal in need, whether that be temporary (foster) or forever (adopt).

We also urge those who may be struggling to keep their animals due to financial, health, or personal reasons, to reach out to your local shelter or animal control for support.

Describe the range of pets, breeds and names who are in the category of longer-term shelter

Our longest-term animals are typically "bully breed" type dogs, dogs that cannot live with other dogs, and cats that are particularly shy.

For example, one of our long-term dogs, Jupiter, is a staff and volunteer favorite and fabulous with people, but simply does not do well living in a home with other dogs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Those traits combined with his beautiful blocky head have caused him to be overlooked and passed over time after time.

What happens when these pets are not adopted over a time period?

When animals are not adopted, we try our best to market them, work on anything that is holding them back, and promote them to a larger audience as best we can. However, the longer an animal is at the shelter, the more stressed they are.

This can start to harm them mentally and physically. When we see this happening, we put out pleas to the public and our foster families for help. Even a short break from the shelter can make a huge difference for these pets.

While they are here and in kennels, they are still very well cared for. While the shelter is not a home or even close to it, we do care for them well here and they receive lots of enrichment!

Danielle Pollack Shares Her Pet Adoption Story

A small animal veterinarian for dogs and cats, Danielle Pollack, DVM, was drawn to Orphans of the Storm "because I have always rescued shelter dogs as pets.

I took the unwanted, the ones off the euthanasia list at a previous shelter in central Missouri that I worked at during veterinary school." She volunteers her veterinary care medicine services at OOTS.

Currently, Dr. Pollack, a Mundelein resident, serves as an associate veterinarian at Village Veterinary Clinic in Grayslake. Pollack recently "lost my best friend, a brindle pit bull named Brandy and just moved into my first place. It was lonely without a dog.

"I was going to work with a rescue group, but I really needed to go to a shelter and save a dog that had been sitting in a kennels for months. There are so many that have been in kennels for months out there in shelters."

Dr. Pollack walked into Orphans of the Storm and asked Kristen Tump and her team to help her find a "dog friendly" and "people friendly" pit bull or pit bull mix to adopt.

"She paired me up with a few dogs, but I really made a connection with a brindle (brownish color) two--year old pit bull named Jalen.

"He walked right up to me and put his head on my chest. The staff said they have never seen him do that before. It was love at first sight," Dr. Pollack said.

"He had been at the shelter in a kennel for seven months and was one of their "less adoptable" dogs because he was high energy although so friendly. He was starting to show signs of mental deterioration after being in a kennel that long."

How to Help Alleviate the Pet Shelter Crisis

Both Dr. Pollack and Tump indicate there are also a surprising number of purebred dogs in shelters.

People wishing to adopt should ask questions to make sure it's a good fit but know that if they adopt from an animal shelter they are "saving two: first, the life of the animal they adopted and secondly, the life of the next animal to take from likely a "kill shelter" or off the streets, Dr. Pollack said.

"If you can't adopt, the second thing you can do to help during this crisis would be to foster a pet," Tump said. Visit: https://orphansofthestorm.org/foster/

Fostering a pet gives shelter dogs breaks from the kennels and teaches them how to be normal dogs in normal households again.

"You could work on training that could make them more "adoptable" to the public or who knows, you may just fall in love with that dog and adopt it," as Dr. Pollack has experienced and Tump agreed based on her OOTS experiences.

Who should I contact for additional information?

Please feel free to reach out to Kristen Tump: kristen@orphansofthestorm.org. Or call 847-945-0235. Orphans of the Storm is located at 2200 Riverwoods Rd, Deerfield, IL 60015. Visit: https://orphansofthestorm.org/

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