Gov. J.B. Pritzker is calling on Illinois residents to adopt from their local animal shelter as facilities in the state and nationwide experience overcrowding and increased pressures in the years following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we move into the holiday season, I encourage every Illinoisan to consider welcoming a new best friend into your home,” Pritzker said during a news conference Wednesday at the private nonprofit shelter Anti-Cruelty Society in River North.
The open-admission shelter is waiving its adoption fees this month.
The shelter has had to euthanize more animals as an increasing number of owner surrenders and strays come through its doors, according to its chief operations officer Darlene Duggan in an interview with WTTW News in November.
WTTW News reported earlier this month on the increasing number of strays and a rising euthanasia rate the city-run Chicago Animal Care and Control. Euthanasia is up at least 25% compared to last year due to a surge in animal intake driven by stray animals. The city shelter has seen a 60% increase in strays so far this year compared to all of 2020.
The overcrowding in animal shelters can be traced back, in part, to backyard breeding during the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to fewer people getting their pets spayed and neutered due to limited access to veterinary clinics, shelter leaders say.
During the press conference, Pritzker also proclaimed this week as Dog and Cat Adoption Week in Illinois.
As animal shelters work to find placement for animals, they do so against a backdrop of barriers that prevent people from adopting, fostering or even keeping their current pets. Those barriers include not being able to afford the costs of owning a pet amid inflation, in addition to housing restrictions such as no-pet policies and restrictions based on animal breed, size and weight.
Click here to read more about the increased pressures animal shelters are facing across the city.
Read more about responsible pet ownership here.