JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — You may have seen signs up around town at restaurants and stores telling you about that business's staffing shortages. Those staffing shortages have hit the Jacksonville Humane Society too, affecting some pet owners.
According to Lindsay Layendecker, Assistant Development Director at the Humane Society, the staff shortage coupled with more people dropping their pets at the Humane Society forced them to stop offering public pet services, for now.
“People who have fallen on hard times or are struggling to get back on their feet and need those resources to keep pets at home, they come to us, and they think that surrendering their dog or their cat is their only option," she said. "We’ve seen the demand for that go up."
She said summer is also the busiest time of year for a shelter, mainly due to the increase in the intake of kittens.
"We wanted to make sure that we had enough resources for the animals in our shelter as well as through our charitable programs that do veterinary care for families in emergency crisis situations," Layendecker said.
She said finding qualified professionals in veterinary medicine has always been difficult, but now it's even harder after the pandemic.
“Going on a couple of years now, there’s a nationwide shortage, so that has always been a bit of a challenge, and we’re also facing all of the challenges that all other businesses have been facing post-COVID, so we have a lot of innovative solutions in place," Layendecker said.
Some of those solutions include internships for high school students who want to become veterinary technicians, volunteer opportunities and on-the-job training.
If you normally bring your pet to the Humane Society for appointments, Layendecker said she doesn't expect the pause to last forever.
"It’s not something we see permanent. We’re just trying to ensure that we have the staff that can provide care to our animals and the community members in crisis at this time, so we’re hoping that it won’t last long, but I imagine at least through the summer," she said.
In the meantime, Layendecker said there are several options for low-cost vet care they've listed on the Human Society's website.
Staff is also holding a fundraiser on July 24 for the Humane Society. The goal, Layendecker said, is to raise $24,000 in 24 hours.