LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — According to the Michigan Pet Alliance (MPA), animal shelters in Michigan and across the nation are facing a major capacity crisis.

MPA officials say this is due to a number of reasons, including animals not coming in and leaving at a fast enough rate.

In 2021, the Michigan Pet Alliance says 130,000 animals were taken into shelters, up from less than 120,000 in the prior year.

During the pandemic, these shelters lost a majority of staff members, and have continued to battle numbers. These staffing shortages have created obstacles when trying to find pets a safe home.

“When you can’t get an animal spayed or neutered because of the vet shortage or you don’t have staff to take them to the vet, what happens is then that dog or cat then sits in the cage longer,” said Deborah Schutt, Chair of the Board of Directors, Michigan Pet Alliance.”

Then officials say more pets start to pile in with little to no space for them to go. A higher number of pets leaves shelters concerned as there is more room for disease to spread.

“A shelter is a very stressful environment from the time the animal walks in the door, it stresses them. What happens is unlike people they can’t tell you what’s going on. Their stress is internalized. It then makes them more vulnerable to any more disease.”

Deborah Schutt, Chair of the Board of Directors, Michigan Pet Alliance

According to the MPA, in prior years the average length of stay for a pet in a shelter was 14 days, which has more than doubled.

To help with the problem, shelters are utilizing transfer programs, but overcrowding has slowed this process.

“Well when you have your cages full, you’re not taking transfers anymore and then that backs up with other problems,” said Schutt.

The MPA says nationally shelters are aiming at saving as many treatable animals as possible, whereas before they would euthanize them.

According to MPA, 94% of the animals who enter a shelter are saved, but depending on their situation, those pets tend to be in shelters longer and take up space.

Animal shelters are thankful there have been adopters, but say what they could use more of is fostering.

“I think almost every shelter would love for people to step up and foster,” said Schutt.

Officials with MPA say they need any and all community members to help out with adopting, fostering, or volunteering in the shelters.