MIDWEST CITY, Okla. - The holidays are a time for family, but it seems there is one member frequently being left behind, abandoned this time of year.
Pets, specifically dogs, are being surrendered by their owners frequently this holiday season, handed over to local shelters.
Already this week, at least 20 dogs have been brought to the Midwest City Animal Shelter and signed over by their owners.
“Any time we have a holiday where people tend to travel, it seems our intact here at the shelter goes up quite a bit," said Adrian Sanders, with the Midwest City Animal Shelter. “Back at Thanksgiving, we had someone surrender three dogs and mention, if they were still here after Christmas, they would come back and get them.”
The reality is, with so many coming in each week, no dog would stay at the shelter that long.
“The thing people don't realize is those things bother us here because, when we get full, we unfortunately have to euthanize,” Sanders said.
In Midwest City, they tell every owner who is surrendering an animal the truth - that, if they can't find the dog a new home, it will be euthanized.
“The hardest thing to see is a pet when it comes in, when it's been with that person all its life, and it's several years old and, for whatever reason, it's just not part of the family this year,” Sanders said.
This week, several rescues have come and taken a few of the animals, freeing up space for others but, still, the kennels are almost full.
“We can't just magically find every dog a home,” Sanders said.
It's frustrating for those who work here to watch.
“If you're not willing to take on that responsibility and that financial burden, then the best thing to do is not have a pet,” Sanders said.
The shelter had at least seven calls before noon Tuesday from others who were asking what they needed to do to surrender their animal before Christmas.
Shelter officials said it is a problem they mostly see with dog owners.
So far, the shelter has only taken in one surrendered cat this week.