NYC animal shelter sees big influx of surrendered pets and strays


NEW YORK - Raven is one of many dogs waiting to be adopted at the Animal Care and Control Center in East Harlem, where officials say the number of pet surrenders has surged.

"Our intake has almost tripled," said Katy Hansen, ACC's marketing director.

In February, the shelter was seeing about 21 pets brought in each day. That increased to an average of 47 a day in June. Hansen said that at the rate things are going, ACC could soon be seeing upwards of 60 animals dropped off daily.

"It's just inching up more and more every month," she said.

The dogs and cats being surrendered aren't the ones that people adopted at the height of the pandemic when many shelters were nearly cleaned out. Instead, they're coming from households struggling financially as various forms of public assistance taper off, Hansen said.

"They're losing their jobs, the eviction moratorium is almost up, the extended benefits for unemployment are almost up," Hansen said. "People are nervous they have to make really hard choices."

On top of the surrenders, the shelter is seeing more and more strays. ACC is making a plea for people to adopt and foster before the shelter hits capacity.

Meanwhile, Republican mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa thinks there should be an incentive. He is proposing the city foot the bill for $1,000 in pet care for anyone who adopts from a city-owned shelter.

ACC offers options for pet owners who are struggling financially so that they don't have to surrender their animals such as a food pantry for free pet food and low-cost veterinary care. ACC staff will also get involved and help out with landlord-tenant disputes involving pets.