STRONGSVILLE, Ohio — After seeing an initial spike in pet surrenders and then adoptions, one local animal rescue group says the current state of the pandemic caused a recent increase in animal surrenders from local puppy mills.
Lisa Kime runs Golden Retrievers in Need, a non-profit, foster-based rescue known as GRIN.
“This has been a busy year,” she said. “Puppy mills were definitely flourishing during the pandemic. They were breeding lots of dogs and now the market is a bit saturated and we’ve heard that directly from the mill operators. Some of them are having difficulty selling puppies and adult dogs.”
Lately, that nonprofit has seen a more than 30% increase in surrendered retrievers, with mill dogs making up 80% of the group’s workload right now.
Kime met with News 5 about the matter, with her blind retriever Radar, who was adopted after being surrendered from a puppy mill.
“We spend on average $1200 a dog,” she said. “They come to us with conditions like Radar’s, they’re blind, they have cataracts, they have heart murmurs. Those things are interbred.”
There's an important distinction to be made: while rescues specializing in certain breeds such as G.R.I.N see an uptick, it doesn't appear to be happening at all animal rescues.
Over at the Northeast Ohio SPCA, executive director Jeffrey Kocian sees his own increase. In his case, it is overall adoptions, which should cross 3,000 by the end of the year.
“We’ve been here 17 years and this will be our highest year in adoptions,” he said. “We accept all kinds of dogs. Maybe 5-7% of the dogs we get in here are purebred.”
Kocian saw an initial spike in surrenders when the pandemic first began, but that’s no longer an issue.
“Probably a few more turn-ins and a few more adoptions, but it’s leveled off both ways,” he said.
Back at G.R.I.N., Kime told News 5 if there’s any upside to her increase in surrenders, it’s that right now, puppy mills are struggling to sell.
“The conditions the dogs are forced to live in are inhumane and cruel,” she said. “While we’re here to help, it would be a good day if we didn’t have to take a puppy mill dog in.”