The Washington Humane Society is overrun with pets who have been given up by their owners just before the holidays -- 26 dogs were brought to the D.C. shelter within 48 hours alone last week.
"Unfortunately we see spikes like this each year around the holidays," WHS spokesperson ChristieLyn Diller told HuffPost. "We took in an equally high number last year at the same time."
Sorry to ruin Christmas, but the Washington Humane Society's experience is hardly unique. Animal shelters around the country report that the merriest time of year for people can be an especially heartbreaking time for pets.
The Lubbock Animal Shelter, in Texas, told My Fox Lubbock they also see a surge of unhappily surrendered cats and dogs, at the end of a year that's already brought in an unusually large number of animals.
"We don't want these animals to go out, settle into this home, then all of a sudden they're back here," the shelter supervisor Shawn Byrd said to the station. "I never thought animals had feelings, whatever you want to call that. But I've actually seen them leave here, then come back, and for whatever reason, they get depressed, for lack of a better term."
A Kentucky shelter, Louisville Metro Animal Services, also says that it sees a major influx of pets relinquished in December.
WHS's Diller told HuffPost "it’s hard to determine" exactly why so many animals are now being brought to the shelter, "but it’s likely due to lack of planning for pets around family vacations and an inability to care for the pet with looming holiday expenses."
The upside: Some organizations have programs to help people hold onto their pets. For example in D.C., the Washington Animal Rescue League has a number of funds for this purpose. The Kentucky Humane Society also has a hotline and free pet food available, for those who need help. Check with your local animal shelters and rescue groups about what sort of help may be available, if you're having a hard time. Or you can even email us, and we'll try to find out what local resources you can tap into.
Some shelters, like the Washington Humane Society, are approaching this from the other side as well. Until Christmas, WHS is waiving all adoption fees. So you and a new furry friend can both be happy, and home, for the holidays.
Update, Dec. 26, 10:50 a.m.: The Washington Humane Society put up a Facebook post just before Christmas that'll warm your heart: