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North Haven animal shelter at capacity because of pet surrenders and abandonments

It's a scenario that those at The Animal Haven say almost all shelters are dealing because of the pandemic.

NORTH HAVEN, Conn. — An animal shelter in North Haven is experiencing a heartbreaking situation, where they are at capacity, and have been for quite some time.

Administrators at The Animal Haven believe they're experiencing a problem because of the pandemic, which lead to an increase in pet surrenders and abandonments.

"During COVID, lots and lots of people wanted to adopt animals because they were at home and it was a good time. Because if you're home, you could acclimate new animals in your home to give your animal a lot of attention," said Linda Marino, president of The Animal Haven.

However, now that everyone is back to work, Marino said many people are surrendering their pets because they're not home as much. Sometimes, the pets also develop behavioral issues for the same reason. Other times, there's another factor at play.

"We're also finding financial issues are impacting this. Lots of people can't afford to keep their animals anymore, it's extremely sad," Marino said.

And it's not just a problem at Animal Haven in North Haven, Mairno said it's a nationwide issue, and shelters everywhere are in the same boat. 

"They're all facing the same problems right now," Marino said.

In a normal scenario, Animal Haven reaches capacity at around 100 cats and 20 dogs. They've been at that capacity for about a year now and every time they find a home for an animal, another one is brought to the shelter.

The influx of pets has been tough on the shelter staff, which is made up of mostly volunteers. They wish they could take in all pets, but they simply can't.

"It's the saddest thing to see them looking. and they're so confused, to see the look, it's the same look on every dog I don't care what the breed is," said Al Cubbellotti, who has been volunteering at Animal Haven for about four years. "They get the love they need. They get everything they need in this place. They really do. It's not a bad life, you know, but it's a shelter."

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So, how can the public help? It all starts with being responsible when making the decision to purchase a pet.

"Thinking of adopting an animal, just consider it a lifelong decision and life changes. And you have to sort of think of animals in those changes too," Marino said.

Marino said that responsibility will especially be helpful for scenarios where people really don't have any other choice but to surrender their pet.

 "It would be great if there was a day where we didn't need an animal shelter, but as long as we're needed, we want to be here," Marino said.

The Animal Haven is not accepting any new pets at this time. They are, of course, looking for permanent homes for the pets that are at the shelter. And, they could always use more volunteers and donations. For information on all of that, click here.

 Julia LeBlanc is a reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at jleblanc@fox61.com Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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