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Overcrowded animal shelters fear crisis as moratorium on evictions ends

Animal rights activists say they’re bracing for the worst as ending the federal moratorium on housing evictions could strain shelters across the country, many of which are already full.

Up to 8 million pets could flock to shelters over the next few months – more than double the annual number of accommodations in the country – as tenants move out, said Kristen Hassen, who oversees Human Animal. Support Services, which advocates keeping people and their pets together.

“We are starting to see the impact of Covid and financial strains and displacement as important factors in the surrender of shelters,” Hassen said. “What is happening with the evictions will put around 8 million pets at risk. This does not necessarily mean that they will enter shelters. This means that their owners risk evictions. These numbers are completely devastating and astounding. “

The Centers for Disease and Control Prevention’s moratorium on home evictions ends Sunday after the Supreme Court in August blocked a Biden administration order extending it.

It is difficult to predict how many people will soon be forced out of their homes and data on evictions is scarce.

Some tenants have already left their homes and moved in with family members or in homeless shelters, or they live on the streets. Others challenge deportation requests in court.

At least 8 million people in the United States were behind on their rent in early September, the US Census Bureau reported.

He also said that more than 3.5 million renters were likely or very likely to vacate their homes in the next two months due to an eviction. Many of those evicted have pets, and not all will be able to keep them.

About 70 percent of American households have pets, according to a survey released by the American Pet Products Association in June.

Fearing an avalanche of animals from evicted tenants, flooded shelters say they are no longer equipped to accommodate other pets.

Shelters are already overcrowded and they are understaffed to provide more than basic animal care, pet advocates say.

Some shelters are trying to avoid the increase in animal numbers by providing temporary accommodation in private kennels, encouraging more animal reception and helping owners find pet housing, Hassen said. .

In suburban Atlanta, housing evictions could lead to 20,000 more pets in shelters, an influx of animals that could lead to their euthanasia, said Karen Hirsch, spokesperson for LifeLine Animal Project, which manages Fulton County and DeKalb Animal Shelters. counties.

“We have been concerned about this for some time. We are facing a space crisis and an unprecedented number of cats and dogs, ”Hirsch said. “It could push us to the limit. We work very hard to save every life, but if we are inundated with 20,000 animals, where will we even put them? “

The two shelters have approximately 900 pets in kennels and approximately 1,000 in foster homes.

It could be much darker in Cook County, Illinois, where 350 animals are housed in the two shelters run by the South Suburban Humane Society. This is twice the number of animals shelters should have. The company said the evictions could bring in an additional 150,000 animals. If this happens, euthanasia will likely occur.

“It literally keeps me from sleeping at night worrying about it. It’s a crisis, ”CEO Emily Klehm said. “I don’t see how any of us would be in a situation other than this, but I can’t think of it that way right now.”

But not all cities anticipate the same. So far, evictions in Detroit don’t appear to be a problem, even though the city-run shelter is nearly full.

“We’re not seeing any kind of increase that has any correlation with the evictions,” said Mark Kumpf, director of Detroit Animal Care and Control.

Kumpf said city-wide eviction prevention programs provide financial assistance and legal services to people facing homelessness to facilitate the possible admission of pets.

“Part of that plan, obviously, is to keep those eviction levels low, and that way people won’t be evicted and animals won’t be a problem,” he said.

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