KILLEEN, Texas — In Killeen and across the U.S. animals that have been adopted are being left as strays.
It's a rising concern among the Killeen Animal Shelter as one of their own was just returned after being adopted.
Polo was featured on "Perfect Pet," and later adopted. A few weeks later, he was left as a stray by the service member who adopted him.
"This is common," Johnny Dees, with the Killeen Animal Shelter said.
Dees added that many times service members will adopt animals, not realizing what they're taking on. On top of that, they don't know how to move with their animal when the time comes for deployment.
Like Polo, many animals are left on the streets, but this doesn't have to happen.
First, Dees wants service members to know, it is possible to move with your animal. There's a process for doing it, just like everything else in the Army.
Dees also teaches families at Fort Cavazos how to care for their animals and prepare for a move, if the day comes.
"We just want them to have their forever home," he said. Dees added that adopting an animal is like adopting a person, so it shouldn't be taken lightly.
If you can't take care of the animal(s) you have right now, there are resources that help to prevent that animal from being on the streets, like PACT For Animals. It's a national resource that ensures pets are properly cared for in the event of an unexpected life event or deployment.
This issue goes deeper than just the military. The amount of strays in the U.S. continues to rise.
According to Shelter Animals Count, the amount of strays entering shelters in the U.S. since 2020 has risen from 40% to 45%.
Many factors play into why people have to give up animals, including the cost of living.
Inflation continues to rise, and as it does, so does the cost of every basic necessity, including those of the animals brought into homes.
The price of good food has risen close to 50% since 2020, according to Vetrinarians.org.
This can put people in a bind, but Johnny wants people to remember that surrendering can be better than leaving dogs as strays.
If you or someone you know is struggling to house their animal, click here for assistance.