OSHKOSH, Wis. (WFRV) – The Oshkosh Area Humane Society (OAHS) is seeing a higher increase in strays compared to past years and is asking everyone for help.

According to the animal shelter, it has seen a 33 percent increase in the number of strays compared to the past three-year average for the first quarter. Usually, staff says they return an average of 80 percent of dogs back to their owners but within the past two months it has drastically decreased to only 63 percent.

“It’s an unprecedented situation.  We have stray dogs coming in and their picture is always posted on our Facebook page designated for stray animals as we usually do. Typically people would contact us within the first day about their lost dog so we’d be able to reunite them fairly quickly.  Lately we’ve been getting all these strays in and there’s no contact from an owner” explained OAHS Executive Director Jessica Miller.

This problem also isn’t only in the Oshkosh area. Miller said the explosion in populations is also happening in additional shelters. “We’ve been getting pleas from other shelters asking us to help with their overflowing dog population and normally we would be able to take at least a few. But lately our kennels have been completely full,” Miller said.

Why are there so many dogs?

OAHS said it has narrowed down why this is happening to a few factors.

  • Pups adopted or purchased during the coronavirus pandemic have fewer socialization opportunities and are more nervous and shy when experiencing everyday things – making their stay at OAHS longer as they get used to new situations and people.
  • There is an increase in animals coming from evictions. In a typical year, OAHS reports they take an average of six animals from evictions. So far, it has received 10 within the last four months this year.
  • Pet owners who are moving are having a difficult time finding affordable pet-friendly housing options.
  • OAHS has also noted getting a lot of calls asking about low-cost veterinary services. The staff explains some clinics are still playing catch-up after being backed up with scheduling during the pandemic. This impacts the availability of appointments, pushing them back for weeks or even months.

In case you are in need of help with low-cost vaccinations for your pet, OAHS is hosting a clinic at its 1925 Shelter Ct. location on Sunday, May 15, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“We’re trying to help out local pet owners with the resources we have, but the need is great,” said Miller.

How can you help?

Miller gave the following ways anyone can step up and help with the larger number of pups.

  • Adopt a pet.
  • Temporarily foster an animal.
  • Donate money.
  • Donate items from their online wishlist.

Currently, OAHS said it has 50 percent off adoption fees for any dog who has been in the shelter for 4 weeks or longer.

“Everyone can do something to help animals in need, whether it’s adopting, fostering, volunteering, donating, or simply spreading the word about the local homeless animal population,” explained Miller.