CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — When the pandemic began and people started staying home, residents flocked to animal shelters to adopt some new company. It was considered pandemic puppy fever.

“Whenever the pandemic first started it felt like everybody and their brother came out here! They had free time and they were lonely, so we saw every single kennel was empty,” said Sarah Tolley with the Kanawha Charleston Humane Association.

As people are getting vaccinated and start heading back to work, humane associations across the nation are seeing an increase in owner surrenders.

“People who have had taken in pets from loved ones who had passed away and are now going back to work, so they cannot take care of the animal anymore,” said Tolley.

According to VitusVet, the percent of pets taken into shelters has risen to almost 60% in late 2020.

The Kanawha Charleston Humane Associations’ kennels were completely empty months ago, but are now up to one-third full. They are taking in animals from other humane societies whose kennels are already full from owner surrenders.

“Yeah, rescues help us too sometimes when we get a little overloaded. So, sometimes they can’t handle it as much either,” said Maria Huffman with the Kanawha Charleston Humane Association.

Claudia Kol has adopted two pets during the pandemic and encourages others to do so as well.

“You are saving a life…it is a wonderful thing to do,” said Kol.

So if your busy life does not allow for a furry friend…

“We always take our animals back for any reason it’s not working out. Even if it’s you don’t have time, that is okay…we want what is best for the animals,” said Tolley.

Ideally picking the right pet and giving it a forever home is the best for everyone involved.

The Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association also provides pet retention specialists if you need help with pet behavior or advice.