NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Hampton Roads animal shelters are calling on animal lovers to lend a helping hand to their four-legged friends. This comes as shelters across the country are seeing an increase in animals coming in, but not going out.

“It’s a nationwide crisis that we’re all kind of in,” said Peninsula Regional Animal Shelter Outreach Coordinator Tiffany Webb. “Animals are coming in faster than what we can get them out the door for adoption.”

She says it’s not pandemic pets that are being taken back to shelters. It’s that fewer people are adopting, so animals are staying longer.

“In 2022, an adult is staying here about 23-24 days before it’s adopted,” Webb said. “In 2021, it was only here about 20 days and in 2020, it was only here about 18 days.”

Those extra days add up. Webb said, “Those three to four days make a huge impact on resources for us to be able to care for them.”

Webb believes external factors, such as gas prices and inflation, are likely leading families to not consider pet adoption. She hopes things change before the shelter has to make tough decisions.

“If we don’t have the space to do anything, we do have to make that decision,” Webb said. “Right now, shelters across the nation are dreading that moment. Some places without the resources that we have are facing that a lot sooner. We’re so fortunate that we’re not in that position, but tomorrow could be different, there could be a court case tomorrow. It changes every day and it’s a hard place to be.”

She hopes the summer will be better.

“I’m really hopeful that those families with children that are home for the summer, maybe they’ll be able to get involved more,” Webb said. “So we might be able to balance with that whether it’s a volunteer or a foster or a field trip to help get the pets noticed.”

At the Norfolk Animal Care and Adoption Center, (NACC), staff says the shelter has been consistently full for weeks now.

Via email, NACC Operations Manager Jennifer Held said, “That means that every single dog kennel is full with the dogs and there is not room for animals coming in. When space is tight, we reach out to our foster families and try to work with other partner shelters. We have luckily had some dogs go into fosters and get adopted but as soon as they leave more dogs take those spots.”

Held added that adoptions there have been slow, and citizens are calling daily to surrender animals.

“The majority of the animals coming in are not pandemic pets. The pets being brought in are due to things like landlords not allowing animals or moving out of the area and not taking the animals with them. Also, we have a high number of strays that are not being reclaimed by their owners,” Held said.

Both Held and Webb encourage people to adopt or consider fostering.

You can learn more about the Peninsula Regional Animal Shelter by clicking here and learn more about the Norfolk Animal Care and Adoption Center by clicking here.