ORLANDO, Fla. – With more people moving to Central Florida and prices climbing, some people are choosing to find cheaper housing options.
For some, that means there is no room for pets, or rental companies don’t allow four-legged friends to stay on the property, which is prompting a spike in pets being surrendered to Orange County Animal Services.
The kennels at the shelter are getting full, with many of the dogs in the stalls given up by their owners.
“We’ve actually seen a massive uptick in animal surrenders,” said Bryant Almeida with county animal services.
Almeida said animal services is reporting double the number of animals being surrendered on a daily basis, up to 30 pets a day. He said that is a 37% increase compared to this time last year.
He said the reason why is housing costs.
“Rents have gone up, people have decided to downsize,” Almeida said. “They’re renting apartments that may have breed restrictions or size restrictions on the kind of pets they can have.”
According to a recent report from Realtor.com, rent rates in Orlando have gone up 34% since 2019, outpacing the national average. Add rising inflation rates and Almeida said this is forcing families to make difficult decisions.
“They’re trying to decide whether I’m going to pay my electric bill this month or I’m going to buy my pup an extra bag of dog food or I’m going to take my dog to the vet, things like that. It comes into play and it’s a very difficult decision for these families,” he said.
Many are making the tough choice to surrender their pets.
“It’s heartbreaking because we have to see them bring their family members here,” Almeida said.
He adds animal services is asking families to look into all options before surrendering their pets.
“All we ask is that you exhaust every single possibility, you exhaust every option before you bring your animal to the shelter because there’s rescues out there that will take an animal, there’s fosters. Maybe a family member, a friend that could take your animal while you get your situation settled,” Almeida said.
Almeida said they’re also creating a list of apartments that will take renters with certain breeds to help families and their pets find new housing that will keep them together.
“I wish I could tell you there was an easy fix to this problem. There really isn’t,” he said.
In response to the uptick in animal surrenders, the shelter is also encouraging the community to spay and neuter their pets to prevent unintentional litters. The shelter offers free spay/neuter services to the pets of qualifying low-income Orange County residents. Animal services also announced a new partnership with SPCA of Brevard to provide a fourth clinic for the program.
For adoption information, head to the Orange County Animal Services website.
Apartment complexes interested in joining a list of properties that can help families can call animal services at 407-836-3111 or email [email protected].
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