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Baby Black Bear by Chuck Wiser

From Pandemic Pets to Perilous Paws: Hornell’s Growing Pet Abandonment Crisis


Talking with Hornell Humane Society Executive Director Sandra Rapp

By: Johanna Elattar, pictured is Buster who is currently up for adoption

Hornell, NY – In recent months, the Hornell Humane Society has been grappling with a concerning increase in pet abandonment and returns to their shelter. I had the opportunity to speak with Sandra Rapp, the executive director of the Hornell Humane Society in Hornell, who shared some troubling insights into this growing issue.

Sandra Rapp expressed her deep concern over the surge in pet abandonment and returns in the Hornell area. She explained that many people are finding themselves in situations where they can no longer care for their beloved pets. Common reasons include moving to pet-restricted housing, facing eviction, or discovering that their landlord’s insurance policy doesn’t cover certain large dog breeds.

Tap to donate today to this vital Hornell super shelter

“Sometimes,” she added, “we encounter heart-wrenching situations where stray cats take refuge under someone’s porch and give birth to litters of kittens. These kittens often end up at our shelter, adding to the burden we are already facing.”

One striking aspect of this troubling trend is that many of the pets being returned or abandoned were born during the Covid-19 pandemic. Rapp noted that individuals who adopted pets during the lockdown have formed strong bonds with their animals, resulting in fewer returns among this group.

“The lockdown led to a significant increase in dog adoptions,” Rapp said. “We even imported dogs from southern states to meet the demand. People found solace and companionship in their furry friends during those challenging times.”

Sandra Rapp highlighted another issue—many abandoned pets are between the ages of one and two years old. Some pet owners may not be prepared for the responsibilities that come with an aging pet or may struggle to address behavioral issues stemming from a lack of activity.

“These young pets often require more attention, exercise, and training, and some owners might not be equipped to meet these needs,” she explained. “Education on pet ownership, particularly for first-time owners, is essential to prevent these situations.”

To address the crisis, the Hornell Humane Society has initiated several programs. They offer spaying and neutering services for feral cats and continue to operate their successful Trap, Neuter, and Return (TNR) program. However, due to a lack of available veterinarians, the TNR program is not currently extended to private pet owners.

Rapp emphasized the importance of reaching out for help if you’re struggling to care for your pet. “There are resources available for those willing to seek assistance,” she said. “The Humane Society collaborates with other organizations to provide pet food and support to individuals facing difficulties in caring for their animals. No one should feel alone in this journey.”

In these challenging times, the Hornell Humane Society is working tirelessly to provide solutions to the growing problem of pet abandonment. Their Facebook page offers a glimpse of the animals available for adoption, along with valuable educational information for pet owners.

Despite their best efforts, the Hornell Humane Society receives approximately ten calls a day from people seeking to surrender their pets. This is a call to action for the community to prioritize responsible pet ownership, seek help when needed, and support the efforts of the Hornell Humane Society in addressing this pressing issue.

As the Hornell community faces these challenges, it’s essential for residents to come together and ensure that every pet has a loving and stable home. The path to solving this crisis begins with awareness, responsibility, and compassion. By working together, we can reduce pet abandonment and ensure a brighter future for our furry companions and our community.

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