Rumors have circulated on social media and throughout news reports in recent weeks that adopted pets are getting returned to the shelters they were adopted from during quarantine.
However, Allison Mayfield, executive director for the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia, said they are just that- rumors.
"Every call I'm on, every meeting I'm on with other animal welfare folks, every single one of them are saying it's just not true," said Mayfield.
However, that does not mean adopted pets are not returned to the shelter at all. According to Mayfield, many adopted pets are brought back to the shelter because they are not a good fit for that new owner. Oftentimes, the pet either requires more work and attention than the adopter anticipated, or the pet has behavior issues that previously went unnoticed.
"Whoever adopts them has to be willing to put in the time and training, willing to do the work it takes just like you would if you got a puppy," said Mayfield.
In order to combat these issues and make better matches between rescues and adopters, Mayfield says the shelter is in the process of making some personnel changes and implementing new programs.
First, Mayfield said she is hoping to hire an adoption center manager to specialize in matching rescue and adopter.
"It's not that we don't try to match animals with their owners [but] even our intakes and owner surrenders have been real transactional and we'd like to move more toward relational," said Mayfield. "I'm looking for someone with more of a social worker-type background, so that we can turn more towards customer service."
In addition to hiring this position, Mayfield said her goal is for the shelter to focus on behavior and enrichment programs for the animals. One of these programs is a playgroup, where rescues spend time interacting outside with one another as opposed to separated in their respective kennels.
"Our long term goal for these animals is that every dog is walked three times a day and they're in playgroup one time a day," said Mayfield. "These dogs deserve it because kennel stress is a real thing and it creates behavior issues, it creates trauma and it creates stress."
Playgroups also provide an opportunity for Humane Society staff to learn an animal's behavior, which goes hand-in-hand with helping them to find the right home.
"We're working really hard to try and get to a point where we're making better matches through that adoption counseling, through the animal enrichment and behavior so that we can bring them together in a way that works for everybody," said Mayfield.