© 2024 90.7 WMFE. All Rights Reserved.
Public Media News for Central Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Pet Rescue by Judy's Judy Sarullo Says Animal Shelters Still Need Foster, Adoptive Parents A Year Since the Start of The Pandemic

Photo: Patrick Kool
Photo: Patrick Kool

A recent UF study found that the percentage of dogs and cats being adopted from shelters during the pandemic jumped significantly from the previous year. 

But Pet Rescue by Judy Owner Judy Sarullo says though her staff found homes for about 1,000 animals last year, her Sanford shelter is still full. 

WMFE spoke with Sarullo about the challenges that animal shelters still face a year on from the start of the pandemic and how Central Floridians can help.

Read the full interview.

Danielle: Have the adoptions or fosters slowed at all as more people are getting vaccinated and returning to work and school?

Judy: We're finding that not necessarily the dogs that came from the pandemic, that people are turning in their animals because they're losing their homes, finances are getting tighter, some people are going back to work. And a lot of them just, you know, moving in with relatives and can't take their animals. So there's been a real influx of animals for that reason that we're taking in.

Danielle: What's the situation? Yeah. What's the situation like right now at the shelter? I know Orange County Animal Services, say that they have 300 animals and they've reached capacity. Are you guys at capacity as well?

Judy: All my spaces are full. But we always make room somehow. For some more. But yeah, I mean, it's yeah, it's just ridiculous how full everybody is. Like I said, people are surrendering them, they're abandoning them.

Danielle: Can I ask you do you have any tips or suggestions for people who are struggling financially?

Judy: I know we're fortunate, we'll get a lot of donations. All my dogs stay on one, I spend $800 dollars every other week because my dogs stay on one food. I can't change their food every day. So we get a lot of donations. I have a gentleman comes on his bicycle. And they've got five dogs, and I'll give them two, three big bags of food. So he can feed his dogs. The shelters have extra food. They can go to shelters in their area, there's food pantries, and I'm hoping that Pet Alliance and the other shelters will do the same thing.

Danielle: Yeah. A year on since the pandemic began, what are some of the challenges that shelters are facing? Whether that's staffing or financial challenges?

Judy: Well, I mean, of course, now, it's hard because you're trying to do the, you know the right thing. So you can't have people walking through. So it makes it more difficult, they have to fill out an application. And we'll review that. And then if there's a certain animal, then we'll, you know, come out and meet with them. So it's making it harder for people to see the animals. And some of our events are starting to pick up a little bit. Thank goodness.

Danielle: You know, how can people help shelters right now, at this point in the pandemic? Are you still looking for adoptive and foster parents?

Judy: Oh definitely. And if they foster, we take care of all the costs. We give them food, we give them the supplies, we give them everything they need. If an animal needs medical attention, we pay for that. We just asked for them to give them love and attention and some training this way the animal gets used to living in a home rather than in the kennel.

Danielle: Yeah, and especially with kitten season hitting its peak about right now. Are you looking for other things too like volunteers or even financial assistance?

Judy: Yeah, I mean, you know, we're begging for cat litter. So we have a wish list it's very precise, what we need. But definitely cat litter.

Danielle: Are you worried about kind of what will happen with all of these pets? I mean, with these shelters being so full, do you think you know they'll be able to find homes? Or are you worried about kind of what we might see in the next few months here if shelters continue to be overcrowded?

Judy: Well the shelters are going to euthanize them. I mean, I'm a no-kill and I'm not euthanizing anybody. I got another call from another shelter. She's got a mom and 10 puppies which I'll take home because they can't handle it at the center. So, shelters are begging us we just took you know, we work with the shelters and tried to take as many from them as we can. Sometimes different environment and different exposure. We can get, you know some of them out that they don't from their places.

Danielle Prieur is WMFE's education reporter.