LOGAN – Abandoned animals aren’t a new problem at the Cache Humane Society, but the coronavirus pandemic has made an old problem more serious.
“Animal abandonment has always been an issue at Cache Humane,” according to executive director Stacy Frisk. “But we have seen an increase in animals left in our parking lot during the course of the pandemic. Since March, we’ve seen our abandonment rates double from a similar period in 2019.”
Frisk said that the shelter has had an average of seven cases of animals being dropped off in its parking lot per month during 2020, which is double the rate of similar abandonments in 2019.
“Some people probably lack financial resources right now,” she explains. “There’s just a general sense that we’re all overwhelmed by the obligations that we’re all handling during this pandemic. Sometimes that leads to rash decision-making in regard to our pets.”
There is a surrender fee at Cache Humane that averages about $50 based on the age and veterinary condition of the animal. That fee goes toward immediately providing the animal with a veterinary examination and vaccinations. That happens within 24 hours after the animal enters the shelter facility.
But Frisk adds that the shelter’s staff can and will waive the surrender fee for people who need such financial assistance.
“We want everyone to know that,” she emphasizes. “If you come to our door and cannot afford the surrender fee, we will still help you.”
In addition to covering the expense of medical treatment for a surrendered animal, completing the formal surrender process resolves any legal ambiguities about the animal.
“Legally, Cache Humane cannot accept stray animals,” Frisk explains. “They are supposed to go to local animal control officials. That’s because we are an adoption center. Our job is to find a new home for that animal you left with us.
“An animal that is just left in the parking lot enters a grey area, meaning that we lack the legal standing to be able to find that animal a new home.”
The shelter director says that another impact of the pandemic can be seen in the fact that the majority of animals now being abandoned at Cache Humane are litters of kittens.
“One of the reasons that we’re seeing an increase in abandoned litters of kittens is because veterinary clinics were closed down for a period of weeks early in the pandemic by executive order from the governor’s office,” Frisk says. “I believe that the objective of that order was to conserve personal protective equipment for hospital personnel, who needed it most.
“So, we were closed down at the end of March, for almost two months. A lot of animals that normally would have been spayed or neutered during that period weren’t fixed.”
For example, more than 2,200 cats and dogs were spayed or neutered at Cache Humane during 2019.
“Cache Humane is now backed up three months on spay and neutering appointments,” Frisk admitted. “We’ve got a lot of people now trying to do the responsible thing with their pets and area veterinarians are just sprinting to catch up on that backlog.”
Cache Humane Society is a non-profit organization that serves as a center for animal adoption activity in Cache Valley. In addition to providing for animal well-being, the shelter promotes innovative programs that promote responsible pet ownership. Cache Humane also works with local government officials, animal care providers, rescue organizations and residents to support compassionate treatment of animals.
In 2019, the Cache Humane Society facilitated the adoption of 529 dogs and 468 cats; administered more than 10,000 pet vaccinations; and, hosted nearly 2,000 local children in youth education programs.