Pittsburgh animal rescue helping pet owners, other rescues overwhelmed during pandemic

PITTSBURGH — A lot of animal rescues feared that as people returned to work, they’d surrender their pets they brought into their homes during the pandemic.

While that is the case for many shelters, Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh says it’s been the opposite for them, and they want to help both pet owners and other rescues who are feeling overwhelmed.

“These pets will never give up on you, and it’s heartbreaking to see people give up on them,” said Paws Across Pittsburgh board member and foster Diane Raible.

Paws Across Pittsburgh doesn’t have a shelter. Instead, it relies on about 200 volunteers to foster. Since Jan. 1, they’ve already taken in 111 animals and have about two dozen requests to surrender.

“While we have record numbers of adoptions, we’re seeing record number returns,” said Raible.

Because of that, Paws Across Pittsburgh took to Facebook begging people to try to work things out.

The rescue is getting slammed with requests to pull dogs and cats. Shelters that we work with are bursting at the seams...

Posted by Paws Across Pittsburgh on Wednesday, January 12, 2022

“The pets have not been trained,” said Raible. “The pets have never spent a moment away from their owners, and the separation anxiety leads to destructive behavior, barking behaviors, and people are just not willing to tolerate or try to fix what has occurred.”

“We can help them find some additional fosters or we can bring some of those animals over here and get them adopted as well,” said Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh CEO Dan Rossi.

Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh can do that because it has the space. Rossi said that over the last three years, fewer and fewer people have been surrendering their animals to them. In 2019, about 2,700 animals were surrendered. That number dropped to 1,200 last year. Rossi also said adoptions are still way up.

“We really, during COVID, beefed up our pet retention services,” said Rossi. “We have services out there for people who might need food assistance, might need some extra medical care, financial assistance around taking care of their animals.”

They’ll also take in your pet if you’re sick with COVID-19 and care for them until you get better.

“We also set up a temporary situation so if someone is in the hospital with COVID or really, really sick, they can bring their animal to us,” said Rossi. “We will hold their animal for them until they’re well and we’ll reunite their animals with them.”

It’s all in an effort to make sure your home remains their forever home.

“The need is just so great, and the need for people to understand that if they work with their pet for a while, they can work it out,” said Raible.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh’s programs and services.