KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Kalamazoo County is now requiring owners who want to give up their pet to schedule a time to do so and saying such surrenders will be allowed “only as space allows.”

The online surrender request form urges owners to try to find a new home for their animal on their own “when possible.” It offered resources online to facilitate rehoming.

Kalamazoo County Animal Services and Enforcement announced the new procedure in a Tuesday release, citing “a significant rise in pet intakes.” It said that since January 2022, pet surrenders have accounted for one third of its intakes. Before the pandemic, that figure was between 20% and 25%.

The agency added its overall intakes have increased 15% since 2022. Things have been particularly bad lately, it said — more than half its intakes for the total year have happened from June to now. At the same time, adoptions have declined 10% since 2022. The agency blamed inflation and rising housing and veterinary costs for the increase in surrenders and decline in adoptions.

“Unfortunately, those resources have been stretched for so long that we’re running out of places to put those animals and so we’re trying to come up with a better way of metering that flow,” director Chad Ensign said.

The agency said the new “strategic intake scheduling system” is meant to accommodate as many surrenders as space will allow and compensate for limited staffing and kennel space.

“Some of (these intakes) are not emergency situations that we can take a week and find a match,” Ensign explained. “Bring it on a day that’s a little bit slower so they have more adoption-viewing versus a day where 20 other animals came in.”

The online form seeks information about the surrender.

“We just want to know a little bit about the animal: the circumstances, why the need for surrender; is it behavioral, is it a need for resources,” Ensign said. “(It’s) a chance to match them with resources if they would like to keep their pet or … (for us to) know what resources we need on our end to bring that animal in.”

“We’re taking advantage of technology, so we have the advantage of getting a preview of pets that need to find homes, maybe even make a match before they even come in here,” he added.

He said the county understands the program might increase the risk that animals will be come strays. It will monitor the situation and allow some exceptions for those with immediate need.

It costs $30 to surrender a dog to the shelter and $20 to surrender a cat.

Right now, the shelter is running a special on adoptions in an attempt to get more animals into homes. The adoption fees for dogs and cats have been cut in half to $80 and $40, respectively. You can view the animals up for adoption online before going into the shelter.