Shelters See Rise in Pet Dumping Amid COVID-19 Fears and Financial Strain

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The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an encouraging rise in pet adoptions, but there's also something else happening — pet dumping. In many places, it's illegal, but that hasn't stopped people across the country from abandoning their pets. 

One such incident recently happened in a suburb outside Atlanta, when a litter of puppies was dumped outside Habersham County Animal Shelter. 

"It's very disappointing," said shelter director Madi Nix. She said that financial strain and the unfounded fear that dogs and cats can spread COVID-19 could be the reason for the recent rise in the cruel practice across the country. “There is help out there. Please do not be ashamed if you cannot care for your pet anymore,” Nix said.

One particularly heartbreaking photo shows a dog abandoned in a Texas church parking lot while nursing her puppies.

At the Humane Animal Treatment Society in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, a security camera was rolling when a man walked up with pet carriers in both hands and dumped three cats before taking off. Another video shows a woman leave a cat in a carrier next to the trash and leave in a minivan. The executive director of the shelter, Angela Miedema, said four cats were abandoned there in a single day.

“Three of the four of them have already been adopted so that’s great news," Miedema said. "One actually ended up giving birth the next morning. Even during the pandemic, if you just reach out to us you may be able to keep your pet and that's really the take home message.”

The penalty for abandoning a pet varies state to state, but in many places it's a misdemeanor that could carry a fine of $500 and up to 15 days in jail.

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