Animal programs

California Animal Shelters Inundated With “Pets”

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY“Animal shelters across California are currently seeing an influx of rabbits and other ‘pets’ surrender and being put up for adoption.

Erika Smart, program and development manager at Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter (SCCAS), says the increase in the number of rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils and other small animals has continued over the years. last two months. Usually, when at full capacity, the shelter sends requests to its placement partners to find space at another facility.

But now they are out of luck.

“Everyone is going through the exact same thing,” said Smart. “It’s a statewide problem.”

There are many reasons the surge could be happening, Smart said. One of them could be that people adopt these animals without realizing how much work they actually represent. They see them as “starter pets” that don’t need a lot of attention.

But despite their size, these tiny creatures require a lot of socialization, exercise, cleaning, grooming, and feeding.

“It’s a living thing,” said Smart. “This is not a toy or a stuffed animal, it is a real living creature that requires a lot of care. I want to have one. They are so adorable. But in reality, there is so much extra work you have to do.

If anyone is considering having a pet, Smart said, they should do their research ahead of time. Here are some questions to ask yourself before adopting: How much time do they have to walk and clean them? Will they be left alone, and who will watch them when they travel? What if their next owner doesn’t allow pets?

“You might think you want a cute, fluffy lion-headed bunny or maybe this Siberian Husky,” she said, “But you have to make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.”

The SCCAS is an “open door” shelter, which means they accept pets no matter what. This has recently led to a large number of surrenders outside the county, particularly in the San Jose area. Owners who cannot keep their pets are put on waiting lists and charged a fee to go. Instead, they’re coming to Santa Cruz, Smart said.

“It’s often an urgent decision, as if their owner is threatening to evict them,” said Smart. “So they don’t have the time or money to get to their local shelter.

With the ongoing flooding, the SCCAS is running out of space, housing more rabbits than it can care for. Making sure every animal gets the right attention every day has been a challenge.

“We can give them food and water,” said Smart, “but we want them to live enriched lives. Get out and play, socialize, not just confined in a 24/7 kennel. .

The placement helped, Smart said. Families can register to accommodate an animal for an extended period until it is ready for adoption. It has helped the shelter during the busy kitten season every year, and it has helped them now, to some extent.

“Foster care is very helpful when we are so full,” she said.

The shelter is currently offering a special adoption. Rabbits and other pets are just $ 22, including spay / neuter, microchip, vaccines, and a small transporter. Staff can also provide advice to new owners on animal care.

On January 15th from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., SCCAS will be hosting the Winter Wonderland Rabbit Tea Party at its main hideaway in Santa Cruz (1001 Rodriguez St.). . Everyone is welcome, even if they cannot adopt yet.

“We just want to promote the rabbits,” said Smart. “Even though people don’t intend to adopt, they still help spread the word. Post some cute photos from the event, maybe someone will see them and want to adopt.

SCCAS is in the middle of its annual Santa Cruz Gives campaign. Funds raised will help support their campus expansion, now in its first phase, with the purchase of furniture, cat trees, sterilization clinic equipment and more. For more information, visit and