Community Corner

Bucks County SPCA Sees Drop In Pet Adoptions In 2020

While fewer people are surrendering their household pets, the nonprofit agency is reporting an increase in abandoned farm animals.

Four kittens enjoying the comforts of their foster home. They represent more than 580 animals cared for in trained foster volunteer homes in Bucks County this year.
Four kittens enjoying the comforts of their foster home. They represent more than 580 animals cared for in trained foster volunteer homes in Bucks County this year. (Bucks County SPCA)

BUCKS COUNTY, PA — How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted local animal shelters?

The Bucks County SPCA, which operates two animal shelters in Quakertown and Lahaska, is reporting fewer adoptions this year, which is largely due to the fact that the SPCA has rescued fewer animals this year, according to Communications Director Cindy Kelly.

In 2019, 545 animals were rescued by BCSPCA Humane Police Officers, Kelly said. In 2020, that number has dropped to 261 animals so far this year.

"It's been an atypical year in so many ways," Kelly said. "We're not the only shelter to see that. It's kind of a trend that lots of groups have seen."

In the early days of the pandemic, when Pennsylvania was effectively under a COVID-19 lockdown for three months, some cash-strapped families started giving up their animals for foster care for fear they wouldn't be able to provide for them. At the same time, Kelly noticed more people signing up for their foster program. Since March, they've added 95 new foster homes.

"We think a lot of people got resourceful and had more time to take care of animals themselves," Kelly said. "There were so many people that were like, 'I'm home, I can take care of a kitten right now. It was a really neat way for the community to engage and so we were thrilled with that."

The "kitten season" starts around late winter every year, Kelly said, which is when multiple litters of kittens begin flooding into the shelters. The kittens are given a quick medical exam before moving into the foster care program, which provides food, medicine, litter and medical support to the foster family free of charge.

While fewer people surrendered their pets this year, the organization has been busy with cases involving large farm animals that are left abandoned by their owners. This year, the shelter took in dozens of abandoned ducklings, along with sheep, goats, pigs, two ball pythons and 40 baby mice, Kelly said.

This ram named Bjorn, who was recently adopted, was one of 62 animals to be rescued by Bucks County SPCA humane officers after they were found in poor living conditions on a property in Pipersville in July 2019. The owner claimed to be running an animal rescue. (Bucks County SPCA)

Humane officers have investigated 434 cases of animal cruelty or neglect this year, which is on par with the 502 cases it investigated in 2019. Not every complaint is founded.

"In many cases we're able to go out and identify the problem, give them corrective measures, go back, and it's resolved," Kelly said.

The nonprofit saw its income cut in half during 2020 as fewer people used the organization's services, though the bulk of its funding comes from individuals and groups in the community. Those figures are also down, Kelly said.

"We're doing more work for animals at greater expense so we absolutely could use financial donations to help end this year stronger," she said.

The Bucks County SPCA operates a free Pet Behavior Helpline available to all county residents at 215-794-7425 x113 or behavior@bcspca.org.

Anyone can report suspected animal cruelty in Bucks County by calling 215-794-7425 or emailing reportcruelty@bcspca.org.

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