Skip to main content


Pet rescue & adoption

Reverse Pandemic Puppies: Why Kennels are Overflowing with Returned Pups

During the surge of the COVID-19 virus in March of 2020, many people prepared to hunker down for an unknown period of time. This meant buying stores of food, finding new forms of entertainment, and for some, it meant heading to their local shelter and adopting a furry friend.

Shelters all over the country were emptied for the first time in decades, which gave us all a feeling of joy. Most shelters couldn’t keep up with the demand of folks looking to bring home a dog. While this was great news at the time, this narrative has taken a different turn, as some local shelters are now finding themselves with more dogs than they originally had last spring. People who adopted last year have surrendered their dogs back to the shelters, with most of the pups being a year old or less.

Why the New Surge?

When looking at the reports across the country, it seems most pet parents who are surrendering their puppies are first-time dog parents. Upon their return, shelters are noticing the majority of puppies haven’t been trained or cared for in the ways a developing puppy needs. Without support in place for proper training, feeding, and healthcare, it can be hard to accomplish those tasks as the puppy ages, which is making it difficult for shelters to find these precious pups new homes.

It seems most of these first-time pet parents either didn’t know how to properly care for a puppy, and or with the need to go back to work/school, they didn’t have the time to continue caring for their furry friend. Now, we have shelters full of dogs that are scared and in need of some serious TLC.

While the pet parents may have struggled to care for the puppies, the hardest adjustment most shelter directors are saying will be the transition for the dogs. They have gone from shelter to home and back again, but now they face another transition of (hopefully) moving to a second home. So now, not only are these pups lacking proper training and care, but each move can also cause trauma to the dog and create trust issues which can lead to negative behaviors down the road.

Before You Surrender Your Pup

We know so much has shifted over the last year. Between work and living situations, most of us have suffered in some way, but moving forward, your pup doesn’t have to. Here are a few things to consider before you or someone you know surrenders their puppy back to a shelter.

  • Ask for Help: Before surrendering your pup back to a shelter, call the shelter or your vet and ask for assistance. They have unlimited knowledge from years of experience and can help you work through difficult puppy behaviors by finding resources like daycare, dog walkers, and discounted food options.
  • Training Takes Time: Puppies are a lot like babies in the sense that they cannot do much for themselves. They rely on us for food, bathroom breaks, fun, and healthcare. Before surrendering your pup to a shelter, take the time to learn about what pups need to succeed later in life. Puppy behaviors don’t last forever, especially when we take the time to help train them in their early years. The more time we spend supporting them in the first few years of life, the less we have to do later.
  • This Too Shall Pass: No matter your current situation with your pup, this too shall pass, as we have seen firsthand with the pandemic. Animals have been scientifically proven to help our physical and mental health by providing us unconditional love, loyalty and support.

We know taking care of pets can be a lot of work, especially when it comes to puppies, but after a difficult year, the reminder here is compassion in all ways, shapes, and forms. Before you adopt or surrender, check out our posting for first-time dog parents. We can help you prepare and work through being a new puppy parent so that everyone involved can live a happy and healthy life.

Get exclusive savings, pet care tips and more!

Sign up for our newsletter and stay up to date with all things Wellness®. Every edition will feature product news, special offers, and exclusive savings. Sign up today!.