TUCSON (KVOA) -- The pandemic was a boom for animal shelters and rescues. Thousands of Americans adopted new pets to keep them company during the COVID-19 lockdown. But now, as COVID restrictions lift and people return to work, those pandemic pets are being returned and even abandoned.
According to the Best Friends Animal Society, owner surrenders are up nearly 83 percent compared to 2020.
"Right now due to the COVID is what we are seeing, the labs and lab mixes are being dumped faster than the shelters can take them in," said Susan Krase, President of the Southwest Oasis Labrador Rescue (SOLR).
She says the rescue has had 27 owner turn-ins since January and has a waiting list.
SOLR is different than the typical shelter as it is foster-based. The rescue can only take in as many dogs as they fosters lined up for.
Jake Mcmains has been fostering for six months. Right now he is taking care of six year old Nugget, who was abandoned by his family.
"So the fosters are more and more in demand because a lot of people are returning pets they got a year ago out of desperation or whatever and now can't take care of them," McMains said.
Summer is always a tough time for rescues and shelters. Some people surrender their dogs so they can go on vacation and existing fosters are also traveling.
"With the fosters going on vacation they're rotating the dogs coming in and that's putting a damper on things so the dogs are being dumped in the street," said Krase.
This trend isn't being seen in all shelters and rescues. The Pima Animal Care Center (PACC) said the owner surrenders they are seeing are related to difficult circumstances which existed before the pandemic.