RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)– Animal shelters are filling up across the country due to a number of issues. In Virginia, the rise has been in part due to pet surrenders on behalf of their owners.

This increase comes after 23 million American households adopted pets at the start of the pandemic, two years ago, according to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).

8News spoke with the Richmond SPCA, where officials have seen an increase in the number of pets surrendered to them for various reasons. But a spokesperson for the Richmond SPCA said the main reason for the rise is the current conditions of the economy.

8News spoke with Teresa Myers, a local woman who is doing just the opposite of the trend by taking on a new pet.

“We saw four different cats and she just spoke to my heart,” Myers said.

Myers adopted ther new cat from the SPCA, and said she felt compelled to adopt after realizing how many pets need a place to live.

“I just think it’s important that we adopt. People always can’t take care of their pets which is sad for me,” said Myers.

According to Richmond SPCA Director of Communications, Tabitha Treloar, 607 pets have been surrendered since January, that’s 31% of the 1,960 animals that have been brought into the facility this year.

Treloar said the animals are being surrendered, “Because of either finances or housing issues. Those are the things that have modestly increased.”

And Richmond is not alone in the trend. Chesterfield County Animal Control has seen 102 pet surrenders this year as of today. Henrico has seen 436 surrendered through the first half of the year.

Meyers said that while others are surrendering their pets, she’s happy to have her new cat, Pepper, to help her emotionally deal with the stressful economy.

“This will be really good to have this little sweet baby to take care of and to calm me down when the days get hard,” Myers said.

The Richmond SPCA said people who are considering surrendering their pets should call the building first, to see if there are any other solutions to the issues they may be having. The organization has a number of resources for pet owners, including extra food that might help offset rising costs for pet owners.