A Call to Arms: How You Can Help Solve the Community Crisis of Homeless Pets

[Guest post by Andrea Logan]

As a long-time foster parent for dogs, I have lost count of how many well-meaning people have told me, “I don’t know how you let them go– I’d take every dog (and/or cat) home! I couldn’t do it.”

I have been advocating for companion animals for over 25 years. I have stood by these excellent shelter and rescue folks while they made difficult decisions and suffered heartbreak daily.

What is concerning is a lack of support from the public when shelter or rescue workers must make the tough decision to euthanize a dog or cat for health reasons or aggressive behavior. The shame and judgment the public heaps on them only makes their compassion fatigue in a very difficult situation that much worse. 

The reality is that some pets are not adoptable.  I have had aggressive foster dogs that you would not want in your home or even in your neighbor’s home. They were a danger to the community. 

Photo Credit: 12photostory on Unsplash

Why do they do it, and how can they do it? Because someone strong, brave, and compassionate owes this to the animals who find themselves homeless, let down by human beings in one way or another.

When I let a foster dog go to their thoroughly screened new home, I look at it as my gift to them. I was a part of their journey; now, another dog needs me. I love them, let them go and grieve for my loss. It doesn’t mean I can’t or won’t do it because it is sad. Wouldn’t it be sadder if they died in the shelter alone?

We have seen an upswing in the number of homeless dogs and cats lately for many reasons: more challenges with housing situations, financial hardship, the increasing cost of veterinary care and more dogs with challenging behaviors that most owners are not equipped to handle. If you search Craigslist for puppies, there is page after page of backyard breeders selling poorly bred puppies to anyone who will pay for them. They are making them faster than we can save them.

Maybe you have contacted a shelter or rescue and not received a response. It is probably because they are overwhelmed with calls.

I spoke to Julie McCabe, the Pet Resource Center Director at Seattle Humane, about the current situation. Julie told me, “The Pet Resource Center at Seattle Humane is seeing an increase in requests for assistance, for help with pet food, veterinary care, pet deposits and temporary boarding options. The center receives an average of 60 contacts per day. Folks are still struggling with scheduling spay/neuter appointments as many clinics are booked months out.”

In addition, Seattle Humane is continuing to see a high volume of surrendered dogs and cats. Says Julie, “We had more than 1,500 owner-surrendered pets during our last fiscal year (April 2022-March 2023) and are on target to reach that number again. We do not accept stray pets. However, when someone shows up with an animal that needs help, we do step in until the pet can go to the correct municipal animal shelter. Our stray intake has already surpassed last fiscal year’s number.”

The shelter and rescue staff did not create this crisis – this is a community crisis and needs a community solution.

How YOU can be a part of the solution

Despite the current sad state of affairs for homeless dogs and cats, I focus on the solutions. How can YOU help?

  • Adopt; don’t buy. Seattle Humane and Petfinder are great places to start. Just because a dog is a rescue doesn’t mean they have more behavioral issues. As a dog trainer, I see an equal amount of severe behavioral problems from dogs that families raised as puppies, as with rescue dogs! Dog behavior is complex – breeding, genetics, socialization, and past experience all figure into behavior.
  • Don’t let your dogs or cats have babies. We are killing way too many homeless pets. 
  • Train your dog. If your dog finds itself homeless, it will be much more adaptable.
  • FOSTERING SAVES LIVES! If you can temporarily take a homeless dog or cat into your home, you will genuinely save a life.
  • Volunteer and/or donate to your local animal nonprofit, shelter, or rescue. Most rely on donations and can’t provide these crucial services without them. We have a pet food bank here in North Bend. Valley Animal Partners helps seniors, veterans, and families with limited income with veterinary care for their pets so they can keep their families together. We also have local rescue advocates who could use your support.

Seattle Humane also sent these helpful links:

Link to the Humane Society site for what to do if someone can’t keep their pet:


And one if someone needs support keeping their pet:


Finally, please tell our hardworking shelter and rescue staff and volunteers how much you appreciate their hard and compassionate work on behalf of homeless dogs and cats. They do this difficult work because they care.

 [Andrea Logan from Lead Dog has been active in animal welfare for over 20 years and currently focuses on rehabilitating challenging foster dogs and helping dog owners with training and behavioral issues. Her passion is assisting people to build a better bond with their dogs. For help with your dog, visit Lead Dog’s Facebook page]

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