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'Unwanted': The top reason pets are surrendered to the Humane Society for Hamilton County

Posted at 3:46 PM, Aug 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-19 16:00:59-04

FISHERS — Key Lime Pie’s owner surrendered the Pit Bull mix to the Humane Society of Hamilton County on July 22.

The reason listed on his kennel card — “unwanted.”

Unwanted is the number one reason for animal surrenders at the no-kill shelter, which is at capacity.

WRTV requested data from the shelter detailing why pet owners are surrendering their animals.

2,849 pets have been surrendered since January 1, 2020, records show.

“Unwanted” is the number one reason, which includes reasons like “I don’t have time” and “I have too many animals.”

307 animals have been surrendered so far this year for being “unwanted,” compared to just 186 in 2020.

The second top reason is housing reasons including “moving,” “landlord issues,” and “lost home.”

The third reason is general behavior and/or basic training needed, such as “not getting along with other pets.”

The fourth reason is financial, where pet owners can no longer afford care.

The fifth reason is the health of the owner, or the owner died.

And the sixth reason is allergies.

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The Humane Society for Hamilton County is hosting a special adoption event Saturday from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. HSHC will ask adopters to make a donation of any amount at the time of adoption.

HSHC President and CEO Rebecca Stevens said on Thursday morning, the shelter had two open cages. While they have several dogs and cats, dogs are the main capacity issue right now.

"We have to keep animals moving out the front door so we have room for the ones coming in the back door," Stevens said. "I have faith in people and I think they're going to come to our aid and we need them to. We can't help other animals outside Hamilton County if they don't."

Stevens says each month, the Humane Society is seeing an average of 15 more owner surrendered pets coming in each month compared to last year's numbers.

She described a "phenomenon" of shelter animals being adopted at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Now, over the last four or five months, HSHC is seeing more and more owners surrendering their pets because they are unwanted.

"It's really sad. I don't know how to stop it. How do you make people follow through on a commitment that they made?" Stevens said. "Everybody's getting inundated by these surrenders."

HSHC requires canine adopters to bring all family members as well as any dogs in the home to meet with a potential shelter dog. Cat adopters must bring all human family members. Those renting properties are recommended to bring the landlord’s pet policy.

All adopters are required to present government issued ID.

Stevens says while their screening process can feel extensive to some people, it is in place to try to ensure adopters know about the decision they're making.

"I think we do our best through vigilant counseling, screening, setting expectations, and trying to make sure everybody knows what they're signing up for, and the consequences for the animal if they don't," she said. "I think we're very direct and open about what it means to keep this pet forever."

HSHC says they plan to go to Indianapolis Animal Care Services after Saturday's event and bring animals at risk of euthanasia to HSHC in honor of Deron, who authorities say was killed by the man who adopted him from IACS.