TOPEKA (KSNT) – Animal shelters across the country have been overflowing with pets recently, including Topeka’s Helping Hands Humane society.

Emi Griess, the communications coordinator for Helping Hands, told 27 News it feels like the shelter has been battling capacity issues for all of 2023. Griess said there is a multitude of factors contributing to this crisis, but that the main one Helping Hands is seeing involves economic hardship.

“We definitely know that hard economic times is a factor for a lot of families,” Griess said. “A lot of families who are coming to us having to surrender their animals because they’ve lost a job or are having to downsize and more into a place that wouldn’t allow that pet. A lot of scenarios you can think of.” 

She said simply put, many people are struggling to afford having a pet right now. Helping Hands is currently offering free dog adoptions and $25 cat adoptions to help people with low cost adoptions, and to try and clear some kennels.

Griess said the shelter had roughly 460 total animals before starting low-cost adoptions last week, but now, that number is down to about 430 animals. Though it may not seem like that large of a difference, Griess said this proven to be a huge relief for shelter staff.

Helping Hands plans to keep low-adoption fees running until they feel comfortable space-wise. In the meantime, the shelter also offers its Pet Food Pantry and other resources for pet owners who may be struggling to make ends meet.