Published September 24th, 2021 at 6:00 AM
Tracy Lewandowski knows that Early is a great dog. She just needs other people to see it too.
Lewandowski works at Great Plains SPCA, one of the largest no-kill animal shelters in the Kansas City area. Early, a two-year-old terrier, has been living in Lewandowski’s office because being around other barking dogs in the shelter was stressing her out.
As a result of the stress, Early, a normally sweet companion, appears aggressive. Her behavior and need to be isolated at the shelter turns off potential adopters, which is prolonging her stay at the shelter, which is causing her stress to worsen.
Early isn’t the only dog stuck in this difficult cycle.
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a surge of pet adoptions and fostering among people who were isolated at home. Although adoptions this year are holding fairly steady compared to last year, a growing number of dogs are getting stuck – and stressed out – in the system.
Today, 16 dogs – about one in five – at the Great Plains SPCA are in need of a foster home because they are deemed to be highly stressed in the shelter environment. Overall, 62% of the dogs at the shelter are suffering from mild to severe shelter stress. The length of stay for dogs with mild to severe stress has increased 14% compared to 2020.
“We have a contingent of dogs at Great Plains SPCA that have been here for too long, are highly stressed and deteriorating,” said Tam Singer, CEO of Great Plains SPCA, in a statement. “Historically, we might have two or three dogs that seem to be bogged down in the adoption process, but right now we have about 20 in this type of situation. We know these behaviors change in a home so fostering and adopting is more important now than ever.”
Lisa Matthew has been volunteering at the shelter for over eight years and she knows that in a loving home environment, dogs can completely transform.
This is why the Great Plains SPCA is calling out for folks to foster and adopt dogs – specifically the ones that might not seem easy at first look.
The shelter provides foster homes with all the veterinary care, food, bowls, toys and supplies the dogs need. According to Matthew, foster parents just need to be ready to supply a lot of love.
Watch the video to learn more about Early and see some of the other dogs in need of homes.
Catherine Hoffman covers community affairs and culture for Kansas City PBS in cooperation with Report for America.