Michigan rescue sees spike in returned pets

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COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. (WOOD) — A lot of people adopted pets during the pandemic. Now that they’re returning to work, a Michigan pet rescue in Kent County says they’re seeing a lot of families returning the pets.

The staff at Unleashed Love find homes for around 200 dogs on a yearly basis. In 2020, they saw more adoptions than usual, with people staying home during the pandemic. 

“Last year for 2020, we were doing anywhere from 30-40 adoptions per month, pretty much the whole year,” said Jasmine Fleckenstein, the president of Unleashed Love Pet Rescue.

Lately, the staff has noticed a concerning trend: People returning their dogs at an alarming rate. 

“We probably see maybe one to five in approximately six month period,” said Don Willis, the treasurer at Unleashed Love Pet Rescue. “Now we’ve had five or six in the past week. It’s been really high.”

“I think a lot of it is people going back to work or they think ‘my dog is going to be home for eight hours a day, they’re not going to be happy,'” Fleckenstein said. “People not wanting to work with trainers or behaviorists.”

Roscoe, an 8-month-old Shepherd mix. (courtesy Unleashed Love)

The sudden spike in returns affects the number of dogs staff can save. Many of the dogs they rescue come from southern states like Texas and Arkansas. 

“When you go through all of that to save them and people return them, it’s like you failed them,” Willis said. “Got to pick yourself up and find them another forever home, hopefully.”

Unleashed Love will hold an adoption event on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Tractor Supply Co. on 5869 Alpine Ave NW in Comstock Park.

Roscoe, a playful 8-month-old Shepherd mix, is one of the dogs looking for a new home. 

“He’s great with kids,” Fleckenstein said. “He likes other dogs.”

More information on how to adopt a pet through Unleashed Love can be found on their website.

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