Why the animal shelter population soars during summer months

While most people can’t wait for summer fun, it’s a time that can really stress out Animal Services professionals caring for pets in animal shelters.

Across the country, summer is the peak season when the number of animals coming in to shelters grows, while at the same time, pet adoptions temporarily dip.

Alex Muñoz, Director, Miami-Dade County Animal Services Department

At the peak times, we accept an overwhelming volume that can reach up to 100 dogs and cats in a day. Miami-Dade County Animal Services is an “open intake” shelter. Our policy is to accept or place, into one of our programs, every dog and cat presented regardless of their age, behavior, breed or physical condition, and we do everything we can to find adopters. The circumstances involving an animal entering a shelter vary widely. The pet might be a homeless stray found roaming in our community, a lost pet, or an “owner surrender.”

Below are some reasons for the summer spike and how you can help us reverse this trend.

Kitten Season

Kitten season for local free roaming cats typically starts early spring and extends into the summer. Oftentimes, people see a newborn kitten litter, get scared, and take them to a shelter if they don’t immediately see the mother. However, this is not an advisable thing to do, unless they are in danger from a nearby threat, because the kittens need care and milk from their mother. The mother may just be out looking for food and will return within a few hours. You can help us by waiting at a safe distance for the mother to return to the litter before removing the kittens. You can also call 311 to report groups of stray cats to help our proactive efforts. We have a program where we trap, spay/neuter, vaccinate, ear tip, and return thousands of community cats (eight weeks or older) where we found them each year.

Vacations Part 1

It’s hard to believe, but people really do drop off pets at shelters before leaving home for extended periods of time. We see an increase in “owner surrenders” during the summer, which in industry jargon means turning in a pet. There are many alternatives to “surrender” available to include trying to “re-home” a pet on your own or checking availability with local rescue groups. Working out a sitter solution will save valuable real estate at animal shelters.

Vacations Part 2

Summer is an optimal time for vacations, especially if you have kids. People often wait until after vacations to take on the commitment of getting a pet, which is understandable. To help offset this slump, we implore the public to look to adoption rather than purchasing, and also to encourage friends to spay and neuter their pets to help lower the future number of pets looking for homes.

Escape Artistry

July 5 is one of the busiest days of the year for us. Miamians love fireworks, and July 4 is not the most enjoyable time to be a dog. In fact, many dogs go so far as to jump fences to get away. Thunderstorms also have the same effect. In the summertime, we also see instances of dogs escaping while gates open for gardening or landscaping, or dogs escaping from sitters who are unfamiliar with your pet. During the summer season, it’s especially important to be cognizant of how those loud “booms” affect pets, hire experienced sitters, and ensure pets are microchipped and wear collars with tags.

Visit the Animal Services website or call 311 for more information. You can follow @AdoptMiamiPets on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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