Animal welfare advocates: 'Dog shortage' in U.S. shows disruption in supply chain

Animal welfare advocates are warning that the shortage of adoptable pets in some U.S. states corresponds with a break in the supply chain as shelters in some parts of the country continue to face floods of stray animals.

Though some states have seen a surge in pet adoptions that has cleared out some shelters, southern states with hotter climates face the same challenge they do every year: an influx of new animals. 

Matthew Bershadker, CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) told NPR that on average about 45,000 animals from southern states are transported north each year to states where shelters are emptier. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“And those are being moved from shelters that have an oversupply of animals to shelters that have an undersupply,” Bershadker told NPR. 

But the coronavirus pandemic has led to varying domestic travel restrictions, thus hindering the transportation networks in place to move animals from shelters in southern states to the less-populated shelters that reported "shortages" in adoptable animals in the previous months. 

Jean Shafiroff, a board member of South Hampton Animal Center in New York and an ambassador for the American Humane Society, said shelters in northern states typically pay to transport animals from places that have too many. 

But there has been a decline in donations to shelters as millions of Americans file for unemployment and emptied shelters do not have the resources to obtain more animals, Shafiroff said. She added that it’s misleading to say the U.S. has a “shortage” in adoptable pets.

“To say that there is a shortage of adoptable dogs and cats when between one and two million are euthanized every year makes no sense,” Shafiroff told The Hill. “A lot of dogs have been adopted now but not that many."

Shafiroff said that though she's happy some shelters have been cleared, however, she is concerned that once social distancing guidelines are scaled back some will decide to return their pets. She also worries reports of shelters facing shortages could deter people from adopting animals. 

“It does not appear that we’ll ever have a shortage," she said.