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Denver metro animal shelters at, near capacity due to influx of owner-surrendered dogs

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Posted at 4:08 PM, Aug 26, 2022

AURORA, Colo. – Aurora Animal Shelter can no longer accept dogs following an influx in owner surrenders.

Aurora Animal Shelter community outreach coordinator Nicole Robbins said from July to August, the shelter has seen a 41% increase in owners surrendering dogs.

“Even though we're 41% more dogs, our shelter has not grown 41%. So, it's been really tricky. We've always been one of the smaller shelters in the area. But this year, what we're seeing is that none of our neighbors or partner rescues or other shelters in the area can take dogs off our hands because they're also very full as well,” Robbins said. “When it comes to surrendering a lot of the rationale that we're seeing is people saying they must give them up because they're moving and they can't take them with them, or the cost is too high. So, it seems like it is financially related.”

Robbins said for many pet owners, it’s a hard decision to surrender a pet.

“Most of these people who are coming in are devastated about the decision and they feel like they don't have any options,” Robbins said. “We always recommend looking into friends or family first, even if it's for a temporary thing. But we want to be a resource for the community. So, this is definitely hard on us.”

The Dumb Friends League in Denver is also seeing an increase in surrendered dogs.

“Our owner surrenders were up 10%, and our stray dogs were up 40%. So, we are just seeing more animals in need coming from our community,” said Katie Parker, Dumb Friends League vice president of shelters. “We think that people are struggling economically.”

Parker said the shelter is not only seeing an increase in animals coming in, but it’s taking longer to get the pets adopted.

“We are always willing to take animals back, we will make it work… we feel like it is a lifelong responsibility that we have. Right now, our policy is that we're taking owner surrenders by appointment. So you can schedule an appointment by calling us or by going on our website," Parker said.

John Krasovich found his new furry family member on the Dumb Friends League website.

“Cotton is a wonderful little dog. He came right to me when they brought him in. I saw him on the website and immediately the heart start pounding... so he's going to fit right in," Krasovich said.

Cotton’s wait for a new home is over, but Robbins and Parker said there are still dozens of dogs on the waiting list.

The Dumb Friends League is hosting a Clear the Shelters event from Aug. 27 to Aug. 31. During the event, the organization is offering 50% off adoption fees for animals one years old or older.