A kitten peeking out of a box at Long Beach Animal Care Services in Long Beach, California. 
Credit: Brittany Murray / MediaNews Group /Long Beach Press-Telegram / Getty

Lonely and stuck at home, millions of Americans turned to animals for comfort in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, adopting and fostering cats and dogs from shelters at record rates. Videos of empty animal shelters went viral; Wired called it “the feel-good pandemic story you need right now.”

“It was a really fun time to be in animal welfare,” said Bobby Mann, chief programs officer of the Humane Rescue Alliance, the largest animal shelter in the Washington, DC, metro area. “We did absolutely see an uptick in adoptions.”

But starting in 2021, shelters began filling back up as there were more animals entering than leaving, and now many are packed to the brim. From Rhode Island to Seattle and everywhere in between, shelters are reporting they’re at capacity, forcing an increase in the number of dogs killed due to space constraints. Earlier this year, almost half of shelters surveyed reported an increase in […]

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