TINLEY PARK, Ill. - It’s a heartbreaking warning for pet owners and anyone looking to bring home a furry friend this holiday season.
With many shelters full and adoption rates down, officials say animals are being left behind.
"There’s just so many, I mean you’re talking thousands of animals out there. I don’t know what’s going to happen but I know something has to," said Terri Buckley, vice president of P.A.W.S. of Tinley Park.
An educational seminar was held at Orland Park's Civic Center Tuesday night to educate the public about what some are calling an ‘animal crisis.’
The meeting was hosted by P.A.W.S. of Tinley Park, or the ‘Peoples Animal Welfare Society,’ and dove into the current state of many animal shelters.
"I’ve been at the shelter 20 years, I’ve never seen anything like this," said Buckley.
Buckley says animal adoption rates are down and at the same time, more people are giving up their pets – some realizing they can't care for them while others are finding out they can't afford them.
"The first domino that’s starting the trouble are actually the owners, maybe they weren’t educated, maybe they didn’t really take into consideration the responsibility of owning a pet," said Buckley. "Our shelter alone within a two-week period – and we’re a small shelter – received 150 requests to take in a dog or a cat."
Since animals aren't moving through shelters quickly enough, Buckley says they don't have the capacity to take in as many new ones, including strays.
"We do find a lot of abandoned pets," said Genny Kowalski, PA.W.S. of Tinley Park volunteer.
Kowalski leads the organization's rescue team – getting strays off the streets.
"People need to know that these animals are no throwaways. It’s a lifelong commitment," said Kowalski.
Kowalski and Buckley are urging families that are thinking about bringing home a furry friend this holiday season to consider the long-term responsibility.
"If you can’t commit to taking an animal in for that long of a time, think about possibly fostering," said Buckley.
Buckley and Kowalski say that pet owners can help by getting their animals micro-chipped and spayed or neutered.