Pandemic pet returns are becoming a problem, store owner says

Pet stores and shelters saw lots of people looking to bring an animal into their lives during the pandemic, but now the opposite is happening.
Rescue groups and others say people are now bringing those animals back -- and it's becoming a problem.
Jungle Bob's Reptile World in Selden told News 12 Long Island that their biggest sales years came during the pandemic. Recently, three bearded dragons that were adopted from the store were returned.
"I get a call to take [a pet] just about every day, unfortunately," says Tyler Smith, of Jungle Bob's Reptile World. "People try to give us guinea pigs and pet rats, hedgehogs -- all that sort of stuff. We're not the experts…but we do have friends of ours that can take them to different rescue groups.”
Other animal shelters on the Island report an uptick in people returning small pets – cats and dogs that were adopted during the pandemic, a time when many were locked down and animal companionship seemed like a good idea.
Smith says many of those who are looking look to surrender pets have realized that pet ownership isn’t for them. He says he rarely turns down a surrendered pet, and now closely interviews new pet owners before selling them.
Bottom line, Smith urges pet owners not to release them into a park or lake if they can't handle them. He says these animals aren't used to the outdoors and need to be taken care of. Smith advises pet owners to find a shelter or organization that can take the animal in.