NORTH SIDE, Ohio (WKRC) — The number of dogs abandoned due to housing insecurity is increasing at an alarming rate. The Humane Society nationally reports 10 to 11 million dogs are at risk of abandonment due to people losing their homes. The number of animals in Hamilton County, Ohio left behind because people are losing their homes, or their ability to keep them in their homes has increased nearly 50% in the past year.
The dogs usually come in without names, collars, or tags. Cincinnati Animal CARE is calling one of their abandoned pups named Larry, a blond retriever mix, whose story is relatively common these days. When his owner was evicted from their home, he left the home and Larry behind.
"It is a lack of affordable, pet-friendly housing,” Cincinnati Animal CARE’s Ray Anderson said. “It is, 'Landlord changed over and changed the rules and I can't have my pet here anymore...', 'My rent got raised too high, I have to move somewhere where I can't afford to move...', 'I can't afford to bring my pet with me...', or ‘I've been evicted, and I can't find another place where I can bring my dog...' We're seeing a lot of that."
Anderson says there has been a 47% increase in housing security abandonments in the past year in Hamilton County. About 294 dogs were abandoned in 2021 due to housing insecurity. That number jumped to 383 in 2022.
Two pups came in while news crews were at the shelter. The owner tied them to a chain link fence and took off.
When they retrieved the dogs, they got a physical description of the person who tied them up and their license plate number,” Anderson said.
And dog wardens are now increasing their efforts to bring charges. It's a second-degree misdemeanor in Ohio to abandon a dog, a first offense is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $750 fine. Subsequent offenses are up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Along with housing pressures, the economy is not helping the pet abandonment issue, which is hitting everyone.
“Families with pets unfortunately are no exception,” said Amanda Arrington with the Humane Society U.S. “So, it’s not a surprise.”
Humane Society U.S. points to increases in pet costs; pet food is up 15%, pet services and accessories are up about 9%, the ASPCA estimates it now costs nearly $1,400 a year to own a dog.
“Very sad, and it’s very confusing for the dog,” Anderson added. “It’s stressful on them, and then they’re coming in here, which is an increasingly stressful environment for them as well. So, they go through a lot when they make their way to us in these cases.”
Humane Society U.S. says economic pressures right now are also increasing the number of animals entering shelters. And the length-of-stay at shelters is increasing as well.