By Karen Morfitt

(CBS4) – According to the Denver Dumb Friends League, an alarming number of pets are ending up in shelters right now. In March alone, the organization had more than 1,100 animals come in to their three shelters.

“It’s unusual because Colorado and Denver in particular, the communities love dogs. For the past decade before the pandemic we couldn’t keep dogs. Dogs flew out of here,” Katie Parker said.

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Parker is the Vice President of sheltering for the Denver Dumb Friends League. She says what they are seeing now is more than just pandemic related.

“People having their lives disrupted because of COVID and because of what’s happening with the economy, what’s happening with housing, when people’s lives are disrupted it can make it harder to own a pet,” she said.

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Compared to 2019, Denver Dumb Friends League leaders say they have seen a 15% increase in dog surrenders and a 41% jump in stray dog intakes. While they anticipate a rise in numbers during the summer months, they say what they are seeing now is cause for concern.

“To see these numbers coming in from our local community only, you’re right it is alarming,” Parker said.

While they are once again counting on the community to help find homes for their shelter animals, they also want those considering giving up a pet to reach out to them first.

“So that we have the opportunity to help them with resources — whether it’s food, training, potentially vet care so that we can keep their family together and not end up with that dog in our shelters,” Parker said.

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If you would like to help, but cannot adopt, the Denver Dumb Friends League is looking for volunteers, foster families or donations.

For pet owners considering relinquishing their dogs, please reach out to the league’s call center at 303-751-5772. Staff might be able to help these dogs remain in their homes.

The call center also can answer questions regarding pet food resources, accessible veterinary care and other ways to keep your family together.

Karen Morfitt