LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Officials have asked good samaritans to help find a lost pet’s home instead of heading to shelters to help assuage overcrowding ahead of a busy Fourth of July holiday and record amounts of animals coming into facilities nationwide.

Recently, officials from The Animal Foundation have issued urgent pleas for help from the southern Nevada community. It’s just the latest trend that is becoming more common nationwide.

“Every shelter in America is seeing record intakes,” said Hilarie Grey, CEO of the Animal Foundation.

Grey said The Animal Foundation took in more than 2,300 animals in June alone. Experts say shelter overcrowding is exacerbated by a steady downward trend in the number of pet adoptions, and combined with owner surrenders, some due to unaffordable pet rent and deposits, the problem is that there are too many animals. Indeed, Animal Foundation officials say shelters take in about 100 animals daily.

“We need to find a better way to help keep pets in homes,” said Nick Lippincott, senior manager of lifesaving programs for Best Friends Network. “Helping a pet stay in a home is more than something for the owner of the dog, but also for the community at large.”

Lippincott said The Animal Foundation is working to create a pet support hotline to connect pet owners with resources. Those resources can range from pet rent to pet food.

With finances representing a large hurdle for pet owners, it is not the largest. According to Grey, 65 percent of the 600 animals brought to The Animal Foundation in 2024 are strays, with the CEO adding that most of them are lost pets.

“If we can […] use social media and have finders kind of look around before they just bring them to the shelter, it might be better because just arriving at the shelter is a barrier for the animal to ever go home,” said Dr. Cindi Delany, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine for the University of California Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program. She said most animals are found within a mile of their home and that less than 30 percent of them are ever reunited with their families.

Some of the animals that come into The Animal Foundation have no tag, microchip, or feasible way of identifying them, Grey said, adding that there is no way to locate the owner in that situation. As such, owners have no idea where their pet is.

Shelters across the country are now focused on finding a home for every adoptable animal, Delany said, adding that the “Adopt, Don’t Shop” mentality will need to prevail in order to prevent shelter overcrowding. The less-than-appealing alternative was prevalent at the turn of the century.

“In the early 2000s, animals got put to sleep at shelters prolifically,” Delany said. “If countrywide only six percent more people did adopt, as opposed to buying from a breeder or pet store […] that would make every shelter in the country be a no kill shelter.”

Pet owners who need help can reach the Animal Foundation’s Pet Support Hotline at 702-955-5932.

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