ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Pet adoptions in the U.S. skyrocketed during the beginning phases of the pandemic. Rochester’s Puppy Mill Rescue Team believes more dog owners are now giving up on their pets than ever before.

Hundreds of people sought new ways to spend their time stuck at home last year. This resulted in one of the biggest rises in pet adoptions across the nation, including Rochester. As more people return to work however, pets that were once loved have now become an after thought.

In 2020, Puppy Mill Rescue Team had 43 owners surrender their dog at its location. Midway through August this year, the local rescue center has already recorded 40 different surrendered pets.

Mary Beth McCarthy, a representative of the Puppy Mill Rescue Team, believes the COVID-19 shutdown has greatly affected the current landscape of the pet rescue industry.

“A lot of it is ‘pandemic puppy’ right now, we’re calling it,” McCarthy said. “People — they had nothing to do during the pandemic, they rescued dogs, we had all-time high adoption rates, the shelters were actually getting empty with dogs, which has never happened before. I don’t think a lot of people understood the responsibility and the care that goes into taking care of a dog, taking care of a puppy.”

The number of surrendered pets is likely to increase before the end of the year with more people give up on animals to adjust their finances.

McCarthy believes dog owners are either looking to give up an older dog or a ‘pandemic puppy’ as taking care of both can become a struggle.