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Wichita animal rescue groups seeing influx of surrenders, less fosters

A dog at Caring Hands Humane Society in Newton, Kan.
Caring Hands Humane Society in Newton, Kan.(KWCH)
Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 2:11 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Animal rescue groups in Wichita are seeing a wave of animal surrenders as people return to work.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of people adopted animals for companionship during lockdown, especially puppies.

Founder of Beauties and Beasts, a Wichita-area, dog rescue group, Amy Heggestad said that when some people adopt puppies, they are not socialized by their mothers – causing issues that make people end up surrendering their animals.

“People can’t correct a puppy like a mother can correct a puppy. So that’s a huge issue with people getting puppies that are too young. They lack socialization skills and people don’t understand that,” Heggestad said.

Another issue that rescue groups are running into as people return to work, is a lack of fosters.

“Last year we got really lucky and that was because so many people were staying home, more people were wanting to adopt, and it kept the intake and outtake of the animals pretty steady,” Caring Hands Animal Rescue Coordinator Cynthia Sutcliffe said. “So, I think now we just don’t have that because everybody’s gone back to work, and we don’t have as many foster parents, for the animals.”'

This causes animals to sit in shelters for longer.

“That is why it kind of gets backed up and filled,” Sutcliffe said. “I would say this is probably more normal than last year.”

Currently, Caring Hands has a wait list for surrenders.

While people say they’re too busy to foster an animal, Heggestad said that some foster animals just need a little love.

“You know if you were sitting in that shelter, what would you want from somebody? You don’t require much,” Heggestad said. “You just require a little bit of love, a little bit of guidance and some food and a place to sleep, and that’s it. It’s not hard to foster and it doesn’t take a lot.

“It’s such a rewarding thing it doesn’t take much of your time.”

Rescue groups recommend that, instead of surrendering an animal, to identify the problem and train your pet.

“People don’t want to spend time training their animal to make it to help communicate with it and that’s just a serious problem,” Heggestad said.

Another way to fix behavioral issues with animals – tire them out.

“It helps so much more than just ignoring them. They have so much intelligence. So if you’re teaching your dog to sit, stay, wait, just spending a little quality time like that it works their brain, and it does make them more tired than if you want to run around the block five times… and then they become better dogs because they have an obedience training,” Heggestad said.

Teaching an animal to get used to others not being in the house and crate training can ease separation anxiety.

“If they’ve always been home staying at home working and things like that, then they … would just have major separation anxiety, because they wouldn’t know how to deal with that,” Sutcliffe said.

By keeping a pet from a shelter, others can be saved.

“Save a dog,” Heggestad said. “Keep yours.”

While shelters such as the Kansas Humane Society and Wichita Animal Shelter said they’re not seeing as many returns currently, it’s likely that it will catch up to them soon.

“Unfortunately, it’s just a matter of time before it trickles into the Wichita Shelter and, you know, as long as the Wichita Shelter isn’t over capacity the Humane Society does pretty well,” Heggestad said.

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