Here’s why Maricopa County is seeing a rise in Huskies in shelters

Sep 21, 2023, 4:35 AM | Updated: 3:31 pm

PHOENIX — Animal shelters in Arizona are seeing a growing number of Huskies enter the shelter system.

“It definitely seems to be getting worse overtime,” CEO and founder of AZ Husky Rescue Alison Nicolosi said.

Nicolosi spoke to members of the media on Tuesday at Maricopa County Animal Care and Control (MCACC). Her organization partners with MCACC and steps in to rescue huskies when they are scheduled to be euthanized.

“We’ve been pulling since 2020 with the shelter, and since that time, we’ve seen the number of Huskies in the shelters go from around 15 at the very low to about 30-40 on average the last few years,” Nicolosi said.

That number, however, is much higher this year, as the average has climbed to 80-90 dogs. On Tuesday, there were 112 Huskies in MCACC’s East and West shelters out of the nearly 900 total number of dogs.

Why do so many huskies end up in shelters?

Nicolosi said Huskies are now among the most common breeds that local shelters see.

“It used to be we’d see German Shepherds and German Shepherd mixes always would be number two after Pitbulls, and I think it might be at a point where Huskies have surpassed them this year,” Nicolosi said.

She explained one theory for the uptick is due to a large number of owners who adopted while they were working from home during the pandemic and underestimated the breed’s energy levels.

“They’re crazy! They get really, really excitable. They have a lot of energy, and people are not able to keep up with the exercise that they need,” Nicolosi said.

Still, she said the breed has a lot of positives too and pointed to their loving and friendly nature along with their big personalities.

What Husky owners should prepare for

Alaina Muinzer, the Animal Behavior Administrator at MCACC told KTAR News 92.3FM that while every Husky is unique, if you want to own one, you should prepare to give them exercise for their brain as well as their body.

“Physical exercise is always great, but there’s a lot of things you can do for mental exercise and mental stimulation for them, which is just as important for them, with them being a working breed,” Muinzer said.

She said one quick and easy tip to give them some mental work is to put some water in their food and freeze it, which will prolong meals while providing that mental stimulation.

She suggested taking a quality-over-quantity approach to spending time with your dog.

“When people think of Huskies, they think they need to go running six miles a day and that’s the only way you can successfully own a Husky, and that’s not necessarily true,” Muinzer said. “If you only have 30 minutes a day to spend with your dog, OK, let’s just make it a really great 30 minutes.”

How to adopt a Husky

Nicolosi stressed the importance of adopting from a shelter over a breeder.

“The biggest takeaway we want people to have is that if you’re looking for a Husky, or pretty much any specific breed honestly, you can find it at the shelter,” Nicolosi said.

Through a partnership with BISSELL Pet Foundation, MCACC is currently holding an “Empty the Shelters” event where adoption fees are waived for dogs six months and older until Oct. 15. To see adoptable dogs, visit the county shelter website.

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Here’s why Maricopa County is seeing a rise in Huskies in shelters