Bissell Pet Foundation: Helping Reduce the Strain on Animal Shelters

by Elysian Magazine


Pet adoptions continue to decrease due to the impact of Covid, changes in the economy, struggles with housing, and other factors that radically have altered city and suburban life since March 2020. Increasing numbers of adoptable pets create mounting stress on the limited space in shelters, and employees and volunteers to provide proper pet care. Fewer veterinarians and limited funds for spaying/neutering — let alone enough money to buy pet foods  and medications — has produced a perfect storm that threatens the lives of millions of dogs and cats. So, what’s being done about it? 

At the beginning of the pandemic, pet adoptions soared, and many shelters operated far below capacity, happily. Some statistics suggest that one in five pet-owning homes adopted a new pet  during the first part of the pandemic; however, intake numbers for shelter pets have been creeping back up to pre-pandemic levels over the past year. With staff and veterinary access far below pre-pandemic levels, and intake numbers back up to 2019 numbers, today shelters across the country are in crisis-mode. 

Adoptions have now slowed dramatically and for the first time in years, many shelters are having to make the painful decision to euthanize dogs and cats. Lifting the national moratorium on rental evictions resulted in up to 10 million pets being displaced, as people lose their homes and have difficulty finding rentals that take pets. Sadly, many have been forced to surrender their beloved canine or feline family members to animal shelters—and perhaps even to euthanasia. Likewise, there is a surge in puppies and kittens, due to the moratorium on spay/neutering in 2020 that protected surgical teams from Covid, and reserved vets’ time and surgical equipment for emergencies only. 

BISSELL Pet Foundation has addressed the crisis and made a real difference with its “Empty the Shelters” program. BPF’s signature reduced-fee adoption event is the largest-funded adoption event in the country, leading more than 118,000 pets to loving homes since 2016. Its purpose is to promote adoption and provide grant-funding to  participating shelters to help cover adoption costs. This makes it possible for qualified applicants to adopt a spayed/neutered, vaccinated, microchipped, and vetted pet for a small fee or even no fee at all. 

BPF campaigns for homeless pets to ensure that the public sees them for what they are: amazing pets!

BPF is also working diligently to change the negative narrative associated with animal shelters in  order to make communities and neighbors aware of what literally is going on in their own  backyards, and to bring people into the shelters to adopt, volunteer, and/or donate. Incredible pets  are yearning for loving homes, but there is sometimes a stigma still associated with adopting a cat or dog from a  shelter. Even individuals who desire a purebred pet are unaware that one-third of adoptable pets are, in fact, purebred. 

Many shelters have implemented a “social services” kind of approach that allows owners to keep their pets at home. Instead of being forced to surrender a pet to the shelter, pet food banks take strain away from household food budgets, and medical supplies for pets in need are now often available through shelters at little or no cost. Microchipping, which ensures the safe return of a pet to its owner, and free vaccines are also available at no cost occasionally, thanks to outreach programs. BISSELL Pet Foundation and others work tirelessly to provide much-needed assistance to shelters and the people in their communities — most especially, to rural and underserved communities that so desperately need the help. 

This proactive approach is catching on across the country, and thanks to organizations such as BISSELL Pet Foundation, shelters from coast-to-coast are moving in a new and exciting direction by providing animal services for adoptable pets. Do what you can to help, while realizing this: there is a dog or cat waiting to own and love you.

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