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Bay Area animal shelters scramble to find homes for growing pet population

Animal shelters see sharp rise in pet surrenders as winter deepens
Animal shelters see sharp rise in pet surrenders as winter deepens 02:09

OAKLAND -- On wet winter nights, shelters of all kinds are filling up and that's also true for our four-legged friends.

No one knows that better than Delphina Han.

"It definitely felt like it was non-stop," she said.

A volunteer coordinator at Oakland Animal Services, she's been working around the clock to find forever homes for an unprecedented number of dogs and cats coming through her doors.

The shelter has 93 dogs right now, about 25 percent over capacity and those numbers are only expected to rise as dogs keep arriving as fewer people are adopting.

"It was definitely a busy year," Han said. "We had to make a lot more effort in getting them adopted or getting them into foster homes."

Shelters across the country are beginning 2024 with more pet surrenders than they've seen in years.

In 2023, Oakland Animal Services saw a 31 percent increase in dog intakes alone.

"As animals left the shelter, it just seemed like more animals would come in and, so, every time there was a kennel space on that very same day the space would be taken by another animal," Han said.

Adoptions went through the roof during the pandemic when nearly one in five households took in a pet. But, as people returned to work and eviction moratoriums came to an end, shelters experienced an influx of animals.

To meet the demand, OAS has been updating its website and pushing more adoption events just to clear some of the kennels.

Now Han is ringing in the New Year with dogged determination to find homes for all her furry friends.

"We've made the process for adoption easy," she said. "We put a lot of effort doing that this year and I think that will carry over into next year."

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