You may be wondering (we’ve been asked): Are people truly surrendering the pets they adopted during the pandemic?

We’ve seen reports in newspapers and magazines that shelters are overwhelmed by pandemic pet surrenders and are running out of space and resources.

Here in our region, we have not experienced a spike in surrenders related to pandemic pets being returned. The vast majority of our adopting families have done their homework, considered the commitment, made an informed decision to add a pet to their home, and are not undertaking adoption on a whim. In fact, we’ve seen no evidence that pets adopted in 2020 or 2021 were returned to us at any higher rate than we typically see.

We decided to research what’s happening outside of our community, and not just rely on our experience, or that of our shelter partners here on the Western Slope.

As you know, in 2020, amid stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines, adoption rates increased as many Americans added new pets to their families. Now, some local and national headlines claim that adoption returns have increased dramatically as COVID restrictions have loosened and people returned to work and their normal routines.

In reality, many prominent rescue organizations have seen a decrease in surrenders since 2019, but that is not the case everywhere. Reports from larger cities say that shelters are seeing more intakes- both surrenders and strays. However, there is little evidence that these are the same pets who were adopted during COVID lock downs. Pandemic related life changes may be playing a bigger part in pet surrenders.

So why do people surrender their pets?  The lack of affordable, safe, and pet-friendly housing continues to be a leading reason for pet surrender, forcing families to face a decision: your home or your pet. People sometimes struggle to access care for their pets and may have an even tougher time now due to pandemic-related job loss or other economic hardships. Many families struggle to afford veterinary care, or food for their pets. Even before the pandemic, far too many people were left with no other option but to rehome or surrender a pet.

For now, it seems that pandemic pets are just as safe and loved as any other pet. Second Chance actively works to support pets and their people in our communities, including helping folks address behavioral concerns with their pets, preventing surrenders before they happen. Because whether you’ve had your beloved dog or cat for ten months or ten years, we know pets are family.


My name is Wendy. I’m a beautiful, petite tortoiseshell girl who would love to join your family. I’m friendly, sweet, and love to be petted. Come meet me today!

Second Chance Humane Society’s Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shops have been servicing San Miguel, Ouray & Montrose Counties for 28 years. Call 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about our Emergency Response, Community Medical, Spay/Neuter, Volunteer, or other services. View our shelter pets and services online: