Housing issues force local pet owners to surrender pets to shelter

Due to a harsh economy and rising housing costs, local shelters report more owners are forced to surrender their pets, mainly due to a lack of housing or landlord restrictions

ROANOKE, Va. – Animal shelters across the region are at, or nearing capacity. Many are short-staffed and rely on volunteers and donations from the community to operate.

Due to a harsh economy and rising housing costs, local shelters report more owners are forced to surrender their pets, mainly due to lack of housing or landlord restrictions.

August is typically a busy month for shelters due to puppy and kitten season.

Franklin County Humane Society Planned Pethood and Adoption Center is just one of many no-kill shelters across the region overflowing with pets in need of a place to call home.

“This is our big puppy-kitten season,” said Kennel manager Christina Thienemann. “We see lots of animals come in, even more so than normal because we are getting tons and tons of kittens. I think right now we are sitting at 350 cats or kittens in the system.”

Thienemann said only about 100 of those cats are ready for adoption either because of their young age or because they’ve yet to be spayed or neutered.

“It gets to the point where you wonder how many more can we keep helping and still get them out fast enough that we aren’t overwhelming ourselves and our fosters,” Thienemann said.

Thienemann said they’re also seeing an increase in the number of pets surrendered by their owners due to housing issues.

“Several of our animals that have just come in the last couple of weeks have been because they are losing their home or a landlord is saying ‘You can no longer have this pet at a residence,’” Thienemann said.

Owners faced with heartbreaking situations are heartbreaking for shelter staff, too.

[ADOPTABLE PETS: Clear the Shelters]

“Some of them are really sad. This one owner that had to bring in his two dogs because he was losing his home, the vetting even said he just loved him so much and they just couldn’t believe he had to give him up. It’s just really sad sometimes,” Thienemann said. And then there’s those like Amphitrite who’ve been waiting for years. She arrived as a stray at Henry County animal control in December of 2021. Thienemann said was going there monthly to help pull dogs from their shelter at risk of euthanasia.

“I thought there was nothing I could do for this dog. The months went by, and in March I went in and thought, ‘Who is this amazing dog? You are so sweet!’ She was all over me. I said, ‘Are you the same dog I said I can’t touch in December?’”

Due to capacity issues, Amphitrite became at risk for euthanasia.

“I got an emergency call and they were going to have to be euthanized and she tested decently with dogs and so I just took a chance and brought her here,” Thienemann said. “And she has been so sweet, but she still has that fear when she first sees people. The same thing that I saw when I first met her in December is what all our visitors see when they come to see her.”

Amphitrite has been in the shelter for 850+ days. She is available for adoption at Franklin County Humane Society. (Franklin County Humane Society)

She said that Amphitrite needs to gain the trust of her potential adopter, and recommends meeting her more than once.

“Those few visitors that have repeatedly come back, especially those who offer her treats, see the Amphitrite that I eventually saw in March, which is this sweet lovable dog,” Thienemann said. “So we are hoping that she can still find her forever family.”

She’s now spent most of her life in a shelter and has formed a special bond with Thienemann.

“Obviously being the one pulled her, you’ll notice that the dogs - you can almost tell who saved them because they have a special attachment to that person. It’s like they remember,” Thienemann said, becoming emotional.

“It’s hard. But we also have our cases when we’ve had cases just like her and we’ve found them our forever homes. We know that there’s that chance if we keep pushing hard enough, we keep advertising them, eventually their family is going to find them.”

She recalled past success stories for long-time animals at the shelter who eventually found their home due to social media posts.

“Everyone wants to come and have this immediate, the dog loves them and is all over them and they just have this moment. I would say that 90 percent of our dogs, any dog in a shelter, is not going to be an ‘instant click’ because they are stressed, they have so much going on and they can’t focus long enough. So we are really hoping that people will start realizing that as the staff gets to know their personality and what they are looking for and what is the best fit for your home... trust us. Once you get this dog home, you are going to feel that connection.”

850 days a shelter dog and counting. But, like every other pet in their care, they aren’t giving up.

They remain hopeful Amphitrite’s forever family is out there. Learn how you can adopt Amphitrite by clicking here.

Stories like Amphitrite are why WSLS 10 News is working for you to clear the shelters. 10 News is kicking off its month-long campaign on August 1.

We’ve partnered with local animal shelters across the region. Each day we will be featuring an adoptable pet like Amphitrite in our newscasts, website, and social media. We hope to help find local animals a forever home.


Even if you can’t adopt, you can help.

Share each pet on social media and help spread the word! You may not be looking for another pet, but someone out there is still searching.

You can also donate to local shelters. Most accept monetary online donations, have Amazon wish lists, or accept donations in person.

Find out how you can help and what each shelter needs by visiting their web pages below:

You can find 10 News’ 2022 and 2023 Clear The Shelters stories by clicking here.


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