Riley, an adorable 4-month-old kitten, hopes to soon have a forever home. She’s friendly, energetic, good with children, and enjoys playing with toy mice.

The playful feline is one of five from her litter. Their original owner surrendered the siblings and their mother to Animal Care Centers of New York City’s (ACC) Brooklyn facility in East New York. So far, two of them are adopted.

Riley and her sisters, Raven and Ryan, were available on Wednesday as part of the shelter’s Summer Fest Adoption event, which was held every Wednesday in August at the Brooklyn ACC parking lot.

Riley sits behind the window of ACC’s mobile pet adoption van. Photo: Nigel Roberts

“We’ve had 44 pets adopted, roughly evenly split between dogs and cats,” Katy Hansen, ACC director of marketing and communications, told BK Reader after the third week of Summer Fest.

For the final event of the month, Hansen said ACC was going all out. They offered not just dogs and cats, but also guinea pigs and rabbits. They hoped to find homes for as many animals as possible.

Although Summer Fest is finished, there are ongoing opportunities to adopt. ACC planned to hold a mobile adoption event on Aug. 28 at Petco Bensonhurst, located at 86th Street, from noon to 4:00pm.

Toby walks the red carpet with his new owner at the final Summer Fest Adoption event. Photo: ACC

Post pandemic lockdown crisis 

After Riley’s mother gave birth, six cats became too many to handle and too expensive for their owner. What’s more, the owner’s landlord didn’t allow pets. Management apparently looked the other way when the owner had just the mom, but the newborn litter crossed a line. 

After keeping the cats for a few weeks, the owner did the responsible thing by surrendering them to ACC.

That owner was far from alone in making that difficult decision. 

Animal Care Center – Brooklyn Mobile Adoption Van. Photo: Nigel Roberts

Hansen said ACC had seen a sharp rise in surrendered pets across the city since springtime. In February, ACC took in roughly 600 animals. By June, that figure skyrocketed to about 1,500.

“These are not the pets that were adopted during the lockdown and returned once the lockdown was lifted and people began going back to work,” Hansen clarified. “These are pets that people have had for years.”

She blamed the ballooning number of surrenders on several factors. 

“It’s a combination of people losing their homes and jobs,” she stated, adding that people are nervous about the expiring eviction moratorium and unemployment benefits.

“They are financially strapped, or they’re moving into a place with another family but can’t bring their pets, or they’re moving to a place that doesn’t allow pets,” Hansen continued. “Families are making really hard choices.”

Guinea pigs, Goldie, Ginger and Honey, were available for adoption. Photo: Nigel Roberts

Choosing the right pet for you

Many older shelter animals have lived in homes, so they have experience being pets. But it’s important to ask the staff specific compatibility questions before adopting, Kelly DiCicco, ASPCA New York City adoption promotions manager, told BK Reader

Some factors to consider include space restrictions, the amount of time spent at home, and the needs of other family members or pets already living at home.

“The staff at shelters is well-versed in creating matches that take an animal’s personality, dream home, and any special needs into account,” DiCicco added. 

Staff at the Brooklyn ACC conducts pairings at the facility, Roger Freed, the mobile adoption coordinator, explained to BK Reader

Picollo was available for adoption at the last Summer Fest event. Photo: Nigel Roberts

Upon intake, the staff thoroughly documents the animal’s background, including its medical and behavioral history. 

To create the perfect match, they consider the needs of both the prospective owner and the needs of the animal. After adoption, ACC continues to provide resources, including Zoom group counseling.

“If people are considering that they need to surrender their pet, they should call us,” Hansen recommended. “We have all sorts of different resources.”

She added that ACC is hiring for multiple positions to meet its ongoing needs. The jobs range from adoption counselors and animal rescue specialists to field drivers. ACC’s website career page has a full list of rewarding jobs.

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Nigel Roberts

Nigel Roberts is a New York-based, award-winning freelance journalist. During his career, Nigel has written for several newspapers and magazines. He has extensive experience covering politics and was a...

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