National Rescue Dog Day: This is what you can do to help ease rise of homeless pets in Southern Utah

ST. GEORGE — Friday is National Rescue Dog Day, which shines a light on these furry friends awaiting forever homes. In Southern Utah, shelters and rescue operations are at or near capacity with homeless dogs hoping for a new “leash” on life.

Animals adopted at the Ivins City Animal Shelter, Ivins, Utah, May, 2022 | Photo by Adele Park, St. George News

The pandemic-related shutdowns were hard on people but good for the homeless pet population. A year ago, many of the rescue shelters were nearly empty as people adopted pets in droves to help them get through a difficult time. Now, the tables have turned, and the homeless pet problem is spiking.

Bailee Mabe, supervisor for the Ivins City Animal Shelter, blamed the lack of affordable pet properties for increasing the homeless dog population.

“People have to choose between family, kids and their pets,” Mabe said. “Great dogs come in here from great families, but they’re left with no options.”

The story is the same at the Iron County Animal Shelter. Technician Carrie Haber said they are seeing a high number of young, non-socialized dogs coming in. It is always better for a pet owner to re-home a dog than it is to turn it into a shelter, Haber said, adding that there is a $100 surrender fee in Iron County.

“The dog must be friendly, no aggression,” Haber said. “Surrenders are only accepted if we have available space.”

P.A.W.S for the cause

As shelters fill up, animal rescue advocates are working to educate the public on good pet stewardship. P.A.W.S. Executive Director Lynn Burger said the best thing people can do to help the problem is to spay/neuter their pets. There were six months last year when spay/neuters weren’t being conducted because many veterinary clinics were shut down.

P.A.W.S. Adoption Center, St. George, Utah, May, 2022 | Photo by Adele Park, St. George News

Supplies also were limited, meaning veterinarians could only conduct emergency surgeries.

“That created a new over-population that we had under control for a long time,” Burger said.

The Humane Society of Utah has a clinic in St. George that offers low-cost spay/neuters. Burger said they are running at full capacity now so there’s no excuse not to get an animal fixed.

While adopting a rescue is a noble thing, Burger reminds the public they should only take this step if they can afford it.

“An animal is going to live 15 to 20 years after you adopt it – if you adopt a young animal,” Burger said. “You need to be committed to that animal for its lifetime or it will end up being released.”

Organizations like P.A.W.S. are hoping people with the means to own an animal will celebrate National Rescue Dog Day by adopting a furry friend in need.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

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