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'We are dangerously close to being overcapacity' | Valley shelters face crisis related to the pandemic

Kimberly Vermillion with the Arizona Animal Welfare League said there's a week-long emergency empty the shelters event to help with overcrowding issues.

PHOENIX — Pandemic pets were a big thing in 2020. 

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, one in five households got a pet during the pandemic. 

Now, shelters across the U.S. are seeing an uptick in pet surrenders because of the pandemic, but it's not because they don't want them. 

Kimberly Vermillion with Arizona Animal Welfare League (AAWL) sets the record straight. 

"It's a very common misconception that people are returning the pets they adopted during the pandemic because they’re going back to work and having lives again when really it's because they’re losing their homes and having financial issues as a result of the ongoing pandemic."

Vermillion said the AAWL is almost full. 

"Arizona Animal Welfare League and shelters across the U.S. are dangerously close to being overcapacity."

Maricopa County Animal Care and Control posted its shelter is already at that point, with some of its kennels doubled up. The shelter has seen about a 36% increase of owner surrenders because of housing issues including evictions and homelessness. 

That's why these two shelters have partnered with Bissell Pet Foundation to hold a week-long emergency 'empty the shelter' event. Adoption fees are $25 dollars or less.  

"Bissell is offering reduced adoption fees for dogs over seven years old, cats that are older than six months, and dogs over 40 pounds because these are the types of animals that usually have a longer stay at our shelters."

The goal is to adopt out older animals. 

"This event is focused on helping our older cats and dogs over 40 pounds or older than seven years old who usually stay at shelters longer."

It runs until Sunday, August 22. 

"If you’re unable to adopt and want to help us this week, it is our 50th anniversary and we're trying to reach our $50,000 dollar goal," Vermillion explained. "So donate if you can or look at items we may need on our wish list." 

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