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Rochester's animal shelter temporarily suspends taking in surrenders due to overcrowding

The Rochester Animal Services Center at 184 Verona St.
Rebecca Rafferty
The Rochester Animal Services Center at 184 Verona St.

The City of Rochester said its animal shelter on Verona Street will temporarily not be accepting animals that have been surrendered by local residents.

Rochester Animal Services announced Tuesday that the shelter on Verona Street is now operating beyond its maximum capacity, and has had to put this policy in place through April 28 due to a lack of available space and resources for the dogs and cats.

Shirley Green, the city’s commissioner of Recreation and Human Services, said that this is a national problem, one that was exacerbated as people returned to work after the pandemic.

“So many times you had people fostering and adopting during those years," Green said, "but now that people are returning to work, the economy may have impacted some families and they just can’t take care of their pets like they used to, and so some people look to surrender their pets.”

City officials are asking local residents to help out by fostering or adopting animals.

Chris Fitzgerald was director of the city government department that oversees the Verona Street animal shelter.

But at least one local advocate feels the city could be doing more to deal with the overcrowding problem at the shelter.

“The shelter been at capacity for so long, why isn’t there an action plan?" asked Maggie Cain, a co-founder of the group Voiceless of Verona Street. "Can they have dogs go to another shelter? Can they do something besides just put a plea out there. You can’t adopt your way out of this.”

Green said there have been discussions about the need for a new shelter, which are continuing, but she said that right now, the city needs to do something to deal with the current overcrowding situation.

City residents looking to find other homes for their pets are encouraged to explore online platforms that facilitate direct home-to-home placement services such as and

Also, for owners needing assistance with access to pet food, the RAS Pet Food Pantry is available every second and fourth Friday of the month. The pantry is located near 524 Oak St., in the Rochester Community Sports Complex stadium parking lot.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.