Tampa Bay animal shelters waive adoption fees to clear space amid continued overcrowding

Overcrowding at animal shelters has made headlines across Tampa Bay since early this year, much of it stemming from increased pet surrenders due to economic hardship and the effects of rampant inflation.

To help clear the shelters at year’s end, many facilities are waiving adoption fees and offering other incentives to prospective adopters. However, animal advocates say they want people who understand the responsibilities of taking on this commitment, so they don’t see the animals back in kennels.

"If you're gifting for a partner that you live with or a parent who could use some companionship, just make sure you have a sense of the kind of animal that they are looking for and a contingency plan if the pet you selected is not a great fit," said Lindsay Hamrick, Director of Shelter Outreach and Engagement at the Humane Society of the United States.

In a Facebook post from mid-December, Polk County Animal Control announced free adoptions through the end of the year, with free pet beds supplied to every new pet owner while supplies last. The facility is also reminding anyone interested that adoption is a lifelong commitment. Animals are not disposable but must be adequately cared for.

READ: Orlando dog called 'ugly' by shelter visitors goes viral; adoption applications pour in

Meanwhile, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay announced Tuesday that starting Wednesday and running until the end of the year, the adoption fee will be waived for all dogs over 40 pounds. This promotion will go on until the end of the month.

The Humane Society of Pinellas is offering a similar promotion, but adoption fees are waived through Friday. Manatee County Animal Welfare is waiving adoption fees in lieu of a donation, while also reaching out to foster families.

Suncoast Animal League in Palm Harbor said it is inundated with pets, asking followers on Facebook to consider adopting as well as fostering pets ahead of the holidays. The shelter is hosting a foster event Wednesday at 3 p.m.