Orange County shelter reports 37% increase in pet surrenders fueled by affordable housing crisis

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Orange County Animal Services officials say pets are starting to pay the price for increased housing costs in Central Florida.

The shelter said it reported a 37% increase in surrendered pets in the second quarter of 2022, compared to the same timeframe a year ago.

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“The primary reason for pet surrender is relocation — due to increasing housing costs,” said Diane Summers, manager for Orange County Animal Services. “People are being priced out of the area, having to move in with family or facing fewer choices and being forced to reside in places that are not pet-friendly.”

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The shelter is increasing its spay-and-neuter efforts in response to the increase. Shelter officials said a staggering 85% of pets coming into Orange County Animal Services are neither spayed nor neutered and many appear to have already reproduced.

Shelter officials said data reflects that spay-and-neuter surgery helps pets lead longer, healthier lives and can have behavioral benefits as well. The shelter offers the “Spay it Forward” voucher program, offering free spay/neuter services to the pets of qualifying low-income Orange County residents.

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Since launching in November 2020, Orange County has issued 2,085 vouchers and helped 708 pets be spayed or neutered through partnerships with the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando, Snip-It and Spay N Save. Of the program participants surveyed, 96% stated they would not have been able to afford spaying and neutering without the help of the program.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.