HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A stray animal crisis is continuing in the City of Houston, and shelters in the area desperately need foster homes, donations, and volunteers.
TheHouston Humane Society (HHS) reported a waitlist for intake that approached a peak of 100 dogs in the past month.
Macey Staes, the marketing coordinator for HHS, said the two main contributing factors are the residual impacts of the pandemic and inflation. Many people surrendered their animals after returning to the office, citing they didn't have enough time to train and care for their pets anymore.
"What people thought was a great time to get a dog actually turned out to be a time where these animals ended up being unsocialized or developed bad separation anxiety. Now that they're returning to work, these dogs are not crate trained or potty trained properly," Staes said.
Others say they can no longer afford to feed their animals due to rising costs. Experts say pet care is at a 14% increase.
"If people are moving out of an apartment and have to pay another pet deposit fee, that might not be feasible for some families right now. Some people are struggling to feed themselves and their pets and, unfortunately, that's a cost that has to be cut sometimes," Staes said.
Shelter employees say they've increased their capacity by kenneling animals together. They're also providing resources to pet owners to help keep families together.
One is the pet pantry, which provides not only pet food but also wipes, beds, and toys. Two is low-cost vaccinations so that families can have accessible preventative care. Three is their full service clinic, which offers affordable veterinary care seven days a week.
Staes said HHS could also use more donors, volunteers, and foster parents. Their shelter is one of the few with an enrichment program, which helps mentally stimulate their animals through textures, smells, tastes, and more to make them more adoptable and adaptable to new environments.
"We have opportunities where people who could use a dog for emotional support or want that animal enrichment time can come be a volunteer with Houston Humane Society. We're trying our best to provide solutions to every problem that we see," she said.
"Fostering not only helps save the life of the animal you're taking in, but also saves the life of another animal you made room for in the shelter."
For more information on how to help or access the shelter's resources, visit the Houston Humane Society's website.