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Shelters face capacity issues as more owners say they can't afford to keep their pets

The San Diego Humane Society provides free resources in hopes of keeping pets and their owners together.

SAN DIEGO — Animal shelters across the country are at or over capacity, in large part because people can no longer afford to keep their pets.

The San Diego Humane Society has been over capacity since last year, forcing them to use warehouses to house extra animals.

"We're about 170% capacity for dogs and about 180% capacity for cats, so we're full which means we have to find creative solutions to place our animals," said San Diego Humane Society spokesperson, Nina Thompson.

While there are several reasons for the capacity issues, Thompson says people giving up their pets does play a role.

In fiscal year 2022, 9.5% of people who gave up their pets to San Diego Humane Society listed finances as the reason.

That number jumped to 15.32% in 2023.

So far this year, it's climbed to 17.82%.

"What everyone at San Diego Humane Society is empowered to do is to have a conversation with that pet owner to make sure that they know we have resources to provide," said Thompson.

Those resources include free dog and cat food, as well as supplies, no questions asked.

They also offer behavior services.

"For example, if you have a behavior issue that you feel is impossible to work with, we'll set you up with one of our trainees to have a conversation because we may be able to help you keep your pet," said Thompson.

Not only that, but you can bring your pet in for low cost veterinary care.

A valuable service considering vet care has risen more than 8% in just the past year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

"The cost of goods has gone up. So have the cost of pet foods, pet supplies, litter boxes, cat litter.  Everything across the board is rising and so it's not surprising with these increased costs the increased financial burden pet owners might face," says Humane Society veterinarian, Dr. Daniel Barbour. 

San Diego Humane Society officials tell CBS 8 they’re seeing more people take advantage of their free services.

Still, Thompson says if giving your pet up is really the only option, they’d rather help you rehome them, instead of dropping them off at a shelter. 

"If you have made that difficult decision to rehome your pet. There are rehoming sites that are vetted by the San Diego Humane Society. We help you step by step so you can post your pet on the website and meet the person who will adopt your pet," said Thompson.

Click here for a list of San Diego Humane Society services, click here. 

Watch Related: San Diego County animal shelters urgently overcrowded (Jul 7, 2023)

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