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Returning your pandemic pet 'should be a last resort,' animal shelters say

Now that people are heading back into the office, animal shelters throughout the U.S. are seeing "pandemic pets" being returned.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Now that people are packing up their work-from-home desks and heading back into the office, animal shelters throughout the U.S. are seeing "pandemic pets" being returned.

Huntsville Animal Services says their return rate is about the same now as it was before the pandemic.

From March 1, 2021 to April 30, 2021, Huntsville Animal Services reported 43 returned pets. From March 1, 2019 to April 30, 2019, they reported 45 returns.

While COVID-19 may play a role in some of their recent returns, they say one of the main excuses is people move and can't take their pet with them.

RELATED: Veterinarians backlogged after millions adopted pets during pandemic

Karen Buchan, Huntsville Animal Services Animal Care Supervisor, said, "It could be up to eight months that they have this animal or less give or take, and then they discover wow I can't handle the animal. It doesn't get along with my other dogs or even cats."

Buchan says pet returns and surrenders can cause an animal to act differently in the shelter than they do at home and reduce their chances of being adopted.

"This should be a last resort because it can be a very scary place," said Buchan. "Especially if somebody has had a dog for example for three to five years and then all of a sudden that changes for the animal."

RELATED: Greater Huntsville Humane Society helps provide pet care to those in need

If you're thinking about surrendering your pet, there are resources available.

Huntsville Animal Services will work with pet owners and can offer some help in order for the pet to stay with his or her owner.

"Is it that they need the dog or cat spayed or neutered? We can help," said Buchan.

The Greater Huntsville Humane Society has a pet food program people can sign up for.

To receive assistance through the King's Kitchen Community and Pet Wellness Clinics you have to meet the following requirements:

- To have an annual household income below $35,000 

- Proof of need, which can come in the form of a letter from Medicare, Food Stamps, WIC, etc. 

- Written proof of spay/neuter

- Photo ID

RELATED: In an effort to cut down on pet surrenders, one local organization is giving out pet food for free

You can only attend one of the two monthly King's Kitchen Community food distribution events. The first one is on the second Wednesday of the month from 2 to 4 pm and the second on the last Saturday of the month from 9 to 11 am. 

To sign up and become apart of the King's Kitchen Community, call the Greater Huntsville Humane Society at 256-881-8081. 

The humane society also wants to take care of your pet's health. The Pet Wellness clinic offers a wide selection of treatments and exams at affordable prices to help low-income families.

These clinics take place on the second Saturday of each month from 9 am to 2 pm at the Greater Huntsville Humane Society.

For more information about services and prices, visit the Pet Wellness Clinic webpage.

WATCH: Resources available for pet owners in need