Pandemic Pet Dumping: Connecticut’s New Plague

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent economic downturn, organizations like Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter and Farm River Wildlife Rehabilitation Center have stepped up to help pets who have been abandoned find forever homes. Throughout Connecticut and the United States, the number of pets being abandoned has skyrocketed due to people dumping the pets they adopted throughout the pandemic. Animals of every kind have been abandoned; ferrets, cats, dogs, guinea pigs, and more.

Photo Credit: Farm River Wildlife Rehab

Without a definite law against pet dumping, people face no consequences for their actions. Farm River Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, a local rehab center, has recently taken in a large group of foster dogs who had been dumped or surrendered in local areas. Since their opening, they have taken in multiple injured kittens, guinea pigs, rabbits, and hamsters which have been found throughout New Haven County as well.

Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter Director Laura Burban believes pet dumping happens because, “If one shelter says they’re full or doesn’t take an animal, people get frustrated, and then they put them (the animal) out the door. I can tell you in a fiscal year we take in about 80-100 critters. I mean guinea pigs, hamsters, bunnies, etc. Since our fiscal year began in July, we’ve taken in about 85 abandoned animals and those weren’t even the ones who were surrendered to us.”

Photo Credit: Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter

Another reason for pet dumping according to the Cosgrove website is that people cannot find housing that accepts their animals, especially in terms of apartments. On the Cosgrove Shelter website, they have a unique app that allows people to find apartments near them that accept their pets. Despite the hardship of giving up a pet, it is always more beneficial to surrender your animal to a shelter rather than leave them out in the wild. Director Burban reminds the CT Shoreline residents that the coyote population has become accustomed to the influx of humans and their pets. Coyotes have resorted to going after pets and eating them with food scarcity, especially those who are undefended.

Photo Credit: Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter

Cosgrove offers resources that can help people who are having trouble caring for their pets and prevent pet dumping. Cosgrove has multiple resources on their website and social media including updated information on all of their vaccine and spay/neuter clinics, how and what you can donate to the shelter, and the pet food pantry which helps people all over the state provide food to their pets. “We try to give them (people) another solution to pet dumping when a pet is given up,” Director Burban said. The shelter’s staff also serve as the animal control officers for the towns of Branford, North Branford, and Northford.

People from all over are welcome to visit the shelter and help out where they can. Currently, they are looking for donations for Timothy hay for rabbits, rabbit food, hamster food, guinea pig food, and especially kitten food. Time is also an appreciated donation and Cosgrove is always looking for volunteers to help out. If you are interested, reach out to the shelter and see what opportunities are available. Volunteers take the time to work with local schools and community programs to educate about things like pet care and what to do if you encounter an injured animal. This holiday season, take some time to help these displaced darlings find “fur-ever” homes and prevent pet dumping.