• Local shelters overwhelmed with stray pets after owners become addicted to heroin


    MANCHESTER, NH -- Local animal shelters are overwhelmed with stray and abandoned pets because their owners are addicted to heroin.

    The assistant manager at the Manchester Animal Shelter said her dog kennels have been full or over capacity for the last six months as the opioid crisis ravages New Hampshire.

    "People are being sent to jail or they're being evicted from their apartments so we've seen a lot more surrendered dogs than we ever have before," said Carolyn Vander Horst.

    This week, five dogs were sent to the shelter from a single home, stretching already tight resources.

    Vander Horst said there is a need for more temporary housing for pets, as sometimes the shelter is not legally allowed to accept animals if they still have a legitimate owner - even if the owner can no longer care for the pets, or themselves.

    "If f an owner is known, then we can't do that," Vander Horst told FOX25. "Even if the dog came from a drug home."

    Advocates who work with those struggling with substance abuse at the Hope for New Hampshire Recovery Center in Manchester said they've also seen pet owners come to the center wanting to enter rehabilitation, but worried about leaving their pet behind.

    "When people and dogs are ready for help, what do we do?" said Kriss Blevens, who volunteers at the center.

    Blevens, who's working to open a special area of the recovery center that would provide temporary 24 housing for those in withdrawal, wants to raise money to create a similar space for pets.

    "Our mission is to help anyone that walks in the door to our community center," Blevens told FOX25. "And we need more kennels, because I think that this is definitely gonna be on the rise."

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