Rising Pet Care Costs Lead to More Surrenders

Lisa Selvaggio
by Lisa Selvaggio

Thanks to a rising cost of living, more people are surrendering their pets to animal shelters or abandoning them on the street. According to Shelter Animals Count, the end of 2023 saw a whopping 250,000 more pets in shelters compared to a year prior. They’ve even seen a rise in the number of purebred dogs and puppies who entered shelters, and there aren’t enough animals being adopted.  

Overcrowded Shelters Around the U.S.

The stats say it all, and this heartbreaking problem is found all over the United States. For example, compared to 2022, Animal Care Centers of NYC saw the number of abandoned dogs they took in go up 41%, and they’d run out of space as of the start of 2024. Tragically, the shelter also euthanized a higher number of dogs (2% more) in 2023 compared to the previous year.  


Animal shelters in Kentucky, such as Franklin County Humane Society, are also struggling to keep up as they deal with more surrenders and strays. The state’s shelters are full, and they’re having a hard time because so many people are giving up their pets as a result of rising costs.

The Nevada Humane Society is yet another example of a shelter that has seen a rise in pet surrenders because people are finding it harder to afford their animals or they’re finding it difficult to locate housing that will let them keep their pets. In 2023, the shelter saw a 65% increase in the number of dogs that were surrendered to them.

Financial Hardship and Housing Issues Are Driving Forces

Why are so many people giving up their pets? Financial hardship and difficulty finding places to live that are affordable and accept pets are a couple of the big reasons. Many people struggle with the rising cost of living not only for themselves but also for their pets, as everything from pet food and supplies to veterinary care has gotten more expensive.  

Shelters across the United States are doing what they can to encourage people to adopt and prevent people from surrendering their pets. For example, Animal Care Centers of NYC offered pet parents help in the form of training assistance, free food, and temporary boarding, and those efforts worked to avoid nearly 3,000 surrenders in 2023.  

There Are Ways You Can Help

You can do your part to support animal shelters and pet parents that are struggling. In addition to monetary donations, you can donate pet food. Or, you can offer to foster one or more animals who are currently waiting for their forever homes. And you can adopt a pet in need of a home—you might even find shelters in your area that have discounted adoption fees as a means to help people afford their new best friend.

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Lisa Selvaggio
Lisa Selvaggio

Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. She enjoys producing content that helps people understand animals better so they can give their pets a safe and happy home.

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