Eagle County Animal Services sees an uptick in abandoned animals
The animals found have been a variety of species and have been found in some random locations
Over the past six months, Eagle County Animal Services has experienced a significant uptick in the number of abandoned animals found around the county.
“They’ve all been found very weird areas, and it’s been really concerning to us, because we understand that people go through life changes and need an outlet like the shelter to help find a new home for their pets,” said Rhiannon Rowe, shelter manager at Eagle County Animal Services. “We just are blown away by what we’re seeing because it’s just not what we normally see.”
Recently, the shelter has found a random assortment of abandoned animals and pets. This has included three guinea pigs found at the Recycling Center in Edwards, a rabbit in a “random place” in Gypsum, a cat in a crate on Cottonwood Pass and three dogs wandering around in a rural place.
Typically, the shelter expects to help with animal surrenders, however, the abandoned pets tell a different story.
“Most animals that are found as strays are found in areas where there are homes, and then most people bring in surrenders when they feel they can’t care for them anymore,” Rowe said. “But we’re just finding these animals in places that aren’t normal places to find a pet.”
The reason behind the increase is also a bit of a mystery. Rowe said that Eagle County Animal Services has worked to make it known that the shelter will accept animals that need homes. Rowe did say that while families usually come to the shelter for family dogs and cats, it has a network of other rescues that it can use to find these smaller animals — like hamsters, guinea pigs and rabbits — a good home.
All of the animals recently abandoned — including the pocket pets — have all found homes.
“Luckily, they’ve all been great, social animals, that I think were just scared to death because they had no clue where they were at. Especially, those poor guinea pigs, but they all found homes,” Rowe said.
Coming off of the pandemic, where pet adoptions saw a significant increase, Rowe said that the shelter had expected to see a much larger increase in surrenders. However, she said whatever surrenders the shelter has had are “not anything that stands out.”
Rehoming, surrendering a pet
No one wants to rehome a pet, but there are certainly instances where it happens.
The No. 1 reason that a pet is surrendered, Rowe said, is usually that the owner is moving to a home where pets are not allowed.
“Finding pet housing is not easy, especially in our valley,” she said.
Another common reason: a lifestyle change, such as, such as divorces, a new baby or another situation “where they don’t feel like they are a proper fit,” she said.
And for individuals or families who are considering getting rid of a pet, “the shelter should be a last resort for surrendering,” Rowe said. “It is a higher stress environment for these animals.”
First, Rowe recommends reaching out to friends and families to see if they can take on your pet. She also recommended a new service from AdoptAPet.com, which is an organization and website used by many shelters, rescue groups and humane societies to help advertise pets and find them homes. The new service is specially focused on rehoming and allows owners to set up a profile for their pet that will be searchable with other, similar pets.
Rowe added that the shelter is also happy to aid in the process of rehoming if it’s something residents are considering.
“We can just start them with the process before the animal actually has to go to the shelter,” she said, adding that for behavioral issues, the staff is well equipped to help people find local behaviorists and ways to keep the animal in the home.
Rehoming rather than surrendering should be the first action an individual or family takes, she said.
“It’s a lot better situation because the owners know (whom) the dog’s going to … a home environment, so usually their stress level is going to be a lot lower, and it just makes the whole process a lot easier on everybody involved,” Rowe said. “But if that doesn’t work, then we are available to talk the dog [or pet] in.”
And even earlier on, before someone rescues or buys a new pet, that individual or family should seriously consider the feasibility.
“Consider the fact that a pet should be with you for the duration of their life,” Rowe said, adding that things to consider include if you’ll be able to care for the pet’s needs and whether you’re in a secure housing situation. “Your pet should be considered a part of your family.”
For more information about Eagle County Animal Services, visit EagleCounty.us/AnimalServices
Reporter Ali Longwell can be reached at email@example.com.