SAN JOSE, Calif. - The population of animal shelters around the nation exploded last year as some people continued to turn in pets adopted during the pandemic.
Shelter managers say economic factors are also a major issue with housing insecurity and rising costs to own and care for pets. So when one South Bay shelter put out the call for help, the community responded in a big way.
On Friday in the parking lot of the San Jose Animal Care Center on Monterey Highway, Albert Rodriguez was taking home a dog named "Axel" in what is known as a foster program.
"So I have come to adopt this precious little baby here. To foster her first, and then do full-time adoption for her. It is my first day with her, she was on hold for two weeks, and they gave me a call yesterday to come pick her up," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said the foster program is a great benefit, allowing him to take home Axel for just a few weeks to make sure she fits in with his living situation before the formal adoption. He expects to adopt Axel in two weeks.
"So fostering is a good way to make sure the dog is going to be compatible with you, or other pets you may have in the house, or other family members like children," Rodriguez said.
The call for fostering pets was just one part of an outreach effort by the San Jose Animal Care Center at the beginning of December, which also included asking for financial help, and the immediate adoption of animals in the shelter. The community responded.
"That has been one of the things that we always love to experience and see in that when we ask for help from the community and our partners that we get it," said Jay Terrado, director of San Jose Animal Care & Services.
In the course of the campaign, more than 420 animals were adopted and another 130 went into foster homes with the likelihood they would become permanent members of those households. Other animals were transferred to rescue partners and $90,000 in donations were raised to help fund the operations of the shelter.
It has all made a huge difference.
"So many animals that enter any shelter, it becomes a stressful place for them. And so a shelter is not where an animal needs to be long term," Terrado said.
Back in the parking lot, Rodriguez says he would recommend anyone foster, or adopt, an animal.
"They are great companions. Especially if you live alone they are great companions," Rodriguez said.
Even though the most recent adoption campaign was a success, shelter managers emphasize there are still plenty of animals that need good homes and adoptions are an ongoing need.