Summer has become the time of year that East Valley animal shelters dread most.
This year, an overwhelming number of pets are being dumped by owners who are simply tired of caring for their dog or cat.
"Around summertime, we start seeing the Christmas puppies coming in," said Linda Arters, president of the Arizona Golden Retriever Connection. "They are no longer cute little small puppies, but about 8 months old and in their terrible teenage years. People are at the end of their patience."
The rise in pet dumping is also the result of people going on summer vacations.
"Some think that they will turn their pet into a shelter and just get another one when they get back," said Arters, a Tempe resident. "As horrible as it sounds, it happens pretty frequently. People just don’t want to deal with the pet care."
Some parents give away their children’s pets as their kids go away to college or move out of the house.
Shelters also see many older dogs who are nearing the end of their lives.
"People just don’t want to deal with the end of life of their pets, so they trade in for a newer model," Arters said.
Debra White, 50, of Tempe, a volunteer for the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control East Valley shelter, said summer is also kitten season. She said the shelter can get as many as 60 kittens per day.
Cindy Mahon, adoption coordinator for Arizona Basset Hound Rescue, said problems arise when people don’t consider a pet a part of the family.
"They don’t have that personal attachment, so they dump them," the Gilbert resident said.
This summer, animal rescue shelters are scrambling to find ways to care for and adopt out the influx of pets.
Nearly 200 golden retrievers alone have been handed over to two nonprofit shelters this year, Arters said. About 200 animals are brought into the two countyrun shelters each day.
Most independently run shelters rely on foster homes for animals that are waiting to be adopted, but they say it is not enough.
"There is a pet population problem in our community, and they need to help solve it. It just can’t be on the shelters," Arters said. "The public needs to start taking responsibility, and they’re not."
Saving your pet
• Do not dump pets in the desert. They will not survive the harsh summer heat.
• Consider alternatives to surrendering a pet, such as boarding or obedience training.
• Do not obtain a pet on a whim. Check into breed characteristics, be aware of the serious responsibility and make sure a pet fits your lifestyle.