SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — It’s one of the most popular topics to the Your Stories team: stray dogs in Syracuse.

Several people have been emailing NewsChannel 9 about dogs wandering through their neighborhoods, or even left alone in yards.

Are you wondering if the problem is getting worse? NewsChannel 9’s Nicole Sommavilla took that question to a few local shelters, and the City of Syracuse.

All of them say there has been an increase in strays since COVID-19 throughout the world into lockdown.

The City of Syracuse says while the problem has been getting worse, the numbers do line up with last year’s.

So far this year, they’ve taken in about 200 strays.

Part of the problem is that there aren’t enough places to bring them or people to care for them.

“The need we know is greater than the resources that we’ve been
able to dedicate to it historically.”

Chief Operating Officer with the City of Syracuse, Corey Driscoll Dunham

However, the City of Syracuse is getting ready to open the Second Chance Dog Shelter in Jamesville.

The county has partnered with us to offer it for the city’s use, so the city staff will be operating the shelter in partnership with Second Chance and that will increase the capacity of dogs. So, once dogs are cleared for adoption they will move to the shelter, be taken care of by city staff, and then adopted out.

Corey Driscoll Dunham

She calls it a step in the right direction. So does Stefanie Heath with Cuse Pit Crew. However, she fears it will fill up fast.

“Certainly, it’s not a long-term solution.”

Stefanie Heath

Heath says the stray situation is nothing like they’ve ever seen before.

“It’s kind of like this, this perfect storm that post-COVID has created for us,” she said.

With inflation climbing, Heath says many people are past their breaking point.

“I don’t think people want to have to give up their pets,” said Heath. “They’re trying to feed themselves and their families and just paying for childcare and all these different things.”

Some simply can’t, and when they try to surrender their dogs at a shelter, they’re turned away because many shelters are at capacity.

Places like the CNY SPCA are seeing the heartbreaking result.

“People at this point are taking their dogs, cutting their collars off, and letting them run.”

Troy Waffner, Director of the CNY SPCA

Second Chance will help with the overflow, but Heath is encouraging people to press their local, state, and federal lawmakers for long-lasting change.

“Let them know animal issues are important to you. They’re not going to make changes on policy unless we are making those phone calls,” she said.

In the meantime, if you’re struggling to keep your furry family member, she says call Cuse Pit Crew. Whether it’s finding pet-friendly housing or buying food, they may be able to take something off your plate.

“Allow us to help kind of figure out that, what is it really for you that maybe you can keep your pet,” she said.

The City of Syracuse is hoping to have Second Chance fully operating by the end of November.

They still need more people to staff it.

If you’re interested in applying, call the City at 315-448-8005.