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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (KDVR) — One of Colorado’s busiest animal rescues says it will temporarily stop taking in new rescues for the first time ever as people return puppies they got during the pandemic.

MAMCO, short for Moms and Mutts, fosters pregnant and nursing dogs, along with their puppies.

The moms and puppies are then adopted out, with more than 2,800 dogs adopted last year.

But the rescue’s executive director, Aron Jones, said the spike in pandemic adoptions has come to a grinding halt, and to make matters worse, families are now returning dogs at record rates.

“We’ve had returns before,” she said, “but we’ve never had to deal with this many returns. We’re getting at least one return a day, and we’re averaging about seven a week now.”

Jones says it’s an issue shelters and rescue organizations are dealing with nationwide as people return to work after the worst of the pandemic.

A puppy pictured at MAMCO rescue on June 4, 2021. MAMCO said it’s at capacity as people return their pandemic puppies at record rates.

“Instead of seeking outside help, they’re just kind of at the end of the rope,” she said. “When the dogs are returned, they are really confused. They’ve lived with these people since they were 8-12 weeks old, now they’re over a year old, they don’t understand why their people brought them in, and then they left without them.”

Jones said that’s putting a major strain on already taxed foster families spread out across Colorado.

MAMCO provides those fosters with food, toys and beds and covers veterinary bills, and Jones said the costs are adding up.

“We have puppies — puppies that we’ve had for months and months — and are now becoming adolescent dogs,” she said. “So I am afraid, and I’m afraid we’re not going to be able to afford to keep doing this. And we definitely can’t pull any more dogs right now, because I don’t have any way to predict who will be coming back, I don’t have any way to predict who will be getting adopted, and we’re beyond full.”

Jones said they badly need more fosters, as well as Kirkland Nature’s Domain puppy food, which can be bought at Costco and on Amazon.

She’s hoping adoptions pick back up, and says they truly have a dog for everyone right now.

“I’m hoping it’s a weird anomaly that we’re having so much trouble adopting out these puppies,” she said.

You can find more information on how to help MAMCO here.