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    About Our Cover 11.16.23

    Multiple surveys over the years show that LGBTQ+ adults are more likely than others to have pets. There is speculation that, because members of our community tend to have less social support than heterosexual cisgender peers, pet companionship could help fill the void by providing emotional support. It is also possible that the challenges faced by many LGBTQ+ people have led to some developing sensitivity to the different ways pets can communicate with us as well as having a greater sense of empathy than they otherwise would.

    Whether you are a “pet person” or not, the problems we struggle with often spill over to the dogs, cats, and other pets around us. One of the top reasons many homeless people cite for refusing to go into a shelter is that some shelters require relinquishment of pets. For low-income people with homes, this year has been especially difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its fallout. In Oakland, for example, the eviction moratorium established during the pandemic ended in July.

    Oakland Animal Services (OAS), along with numerous other animal shelters across the Bay Area, since then has seen a sharp rise in the number of surrendered pets, with large dogs posing some of the greatest challenges. Ann Dunn, the Director of OAS who is profiled in this issue of the San Francisco Bay Times, says that many people have had to downsize. “They reach the point where they can longer afford to keep their pets,” she explained, adding that the lack of affordable housing in the region compounds the problem.

    She and her team have been tirelessly working to prevent euthanizing animals. The task has been overwhelming, as OAS is set up to shelter no more than 65–73 large dogs at a time, with 65 being the desired limit, but the number of homeless big dogs has been going well over those numbers this year.

    A member of the Bay Times team recently visited OAS and could see that the shelter was also packed with beautiful, loving cats—room after room of them with well-tended cages stacked high. Just walking by the cages caused many of the cats to run to the front, trying to get attention and displaying unmistakable signs of affection.

    OAS has other animals up for adoption now too. As of this writing there are multiple rabbits, five birds, and two Guinea pigs.

    For so many of us, pets are beloved family members. It is heartbreaking, especially during the holiday season, to think of many in shelters and at risk of being euthanized. Since the overall problem is ongoing, we are not only highlighting it now but are also adding to our regular coverage of pets up for adoption by introducing a new OAS column, “Let’s Go Home,” which will run in every issue.

    If you cannot adopt a new pet now, please consider volunteering or donating an amount of any kind to your local shelter and helping to spread the word about the many animals in dire need of their forever homes.

    About Our Cover
    Published on November 16, 2023