Rescue says pet surrenders have almost doubled over the last year

A local pet rescue is now receiving between 200 and 300 requests every month to surrender pets. 

On Tuesday, it offered pet supplies and food to the community, aiming to help families keep pets in their homes.

Ruff Start Rescue had a surplus of supplies, such as pet food, crates and even pet Halloween costumes.

The Princeton-based rescue spread those supplies out across its front lawn as part of "Community Give Back Day." 

"People need help with their animals. We are trying to prevent owner surrenders. We're trying to help people keep their pets in their homes so that those pets don't end up in the rescue," the rescue’s founder and executive director, Azure Davis, told FOX 9.

Davis said over the last year, the rescue has seen a 46% increase in the number of pets surrendered, which she said is something most owners see as a last resort after exhausting other avenues.

"What we've heard a lot from food shelves is that people will go to a food shelf [and] they will get food for themselves, but they're bringing it home and giving it to their pet because otherwise they can't afford to feed their pets. So, they're sacrificing themselves for their pet, and nobody should have to be in that situation," Davis said.

She called the current situation a "perfect storm" – rescues don’t have enough fosters or adopters, and the costs of vet bills and pet food are increasing for pet owners.

"My cat's food has gone from $16 to $30-something a bag, so it is getting very expensive to have pets," said Mark Fischer, who picked up supplies Tuesday for his two cats and chihuahua, Sebastian.

Fischer believes the rescue’s event could help ease the financial burden for pet owners.

"Nobody wants to see a dog go hungry or a cat go hungry. Everybody wants their pets taken care of," he said.

Most of the items at the event were donated, but Davis said the rescue's monetary donations are decreasing. The rescue is receiving about 28% less each donation.
"The expenses are going up, the donations are going down because people can't afford to donate anymore, and the need is increasing," Davis said. "I really hope that this does not continue to be the trend. It can't be."

Any supplies leftover from Tuesday’s event will go to other rescues and local food shelves. 

Ruff Start Rescue encourages anyone who needs help or resources for their pets to reach out to their office.