A sharp rise in relinquished and homeless dogs arriving at the Denver Dumb Friends League’s three Colorado shelters has left the organization asking for the public’s help through adoption.
The surge has crowded shelters, which has left the Dumb Friends League operating “at a critical level in its capacity to care for dogs” at its locations in Denver, Castle Rock and Alamosa, according to the organization.
Dog surrenders are up 15% from 2019, while stray dog intakes are up 41%. In March, 1,100 dogs came into the Dumb Friends League’s shelters.
Apryl Steele, the CEO of the organization, said it hasn’t been uncommon during this surge to have more than 100 dogs arrive at the Dumb Friends League’s shelters in during a single day.
While the organization typically sees a rise in dog arrivals during the summer, this spring increase is concerning, Steele said, due to her belief that economic challenges are to blame.
With housing problems and homelessness hitting the Denver area, Steele said they have seen dogs surrendered while families are forced to move in with others or find temporary housing elsewhere — without their dogs.
The full shelters pose a problem for the dogs, who get stressed in crowded conditions, which tends to lower their chances of adoption. The Dumb Friends League is also dealing with a staffing shortage that makes the push for adoptions hard to keep up with.
While Steele said that the pandemic likely plays a role in the economic hardships causing the surge, the current surge is unlike anything the organization dealt with during the height of COVID-19. At that time, with safety nets in place and people staying at home, fewer dogs were surrendered and there was more demand for adoption.
The Dumb Friends League is lowering the adoption fee for all dogs at its San Luis Valley Animal Center in Alamosa in April to $50 in an effort to encourage finding homes for the dogs.
“Adopting a pet is a serious decision and a long-term commitment,” the organization said in a news release.
The Dumb Friends League is also asking for volunteers and foster homes to help with the surge in animals.
“Our community is among the best in the country when it comes to caring for pets,” Steele said in a news release. “When we have needed help, our community has responded, and we’re hoping they will step up now.”
Steele also advised families that are considering relinquishing their pets to call the organization beforehand at 303-751-5772 to see if they have resources that can help.
“Dogs and cats play a really central role in families,” Steele said in an interview.
Steele said that animals have benefits to people’s health and if the organization can help keep families together before dogs are dropped off at the shelter, they will provide the resources.
To learn more about the dogs and other pets up for adoption at the Denver Dumb Friends League, visit ddfl.org.
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