JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A recent increase of people giving up pets to an animal shelter in Juneau has shelter managers concerned that people going back to work as coronavirus pandemic restrictions ease can no longer care for the pets they had.

Juneau Animal Rescue has experienced an increase in owners giving back their pets in recent weeks, the Juneau Empire reported.

The shelter’s executive director, Samantha Blankenship, said at the start of the pandemic, many shelters worldwide “emptied out.”

“Our concern is that as people return to work they’re realizing they can’t take care of the animals,” she said.

In one 48-hour period, the shelter received 17 of the pets, Blankenship said.

The shelter has space for about 60 cats and 47 dogs and is taking steps to increase capacity, she said.


The shelter’s lobby will reopen Thursday for people with appointments to adopt.

The animal shelter has also encouraged members of the community to help by fostering animals and for others to avoid return their pets unless except in emergency cases.

Beverly Ausick, director of Alaska Animal Rescue Friends, said puppy adoptions have slowed as people have returned to work, which she said was expected.

“However there still seems to be a steady flow of folks looking to adopt as the weather warms up and people find themselves doing more outdoor adventuring,” she said by email. “We are now having more people interested in the adult dogs and less in the puppies.”

Some shelters are struggling with financial setbacks caused by COVID-19 and the cancellation of fundraising events.