DENVER (KDVR) — Shelters across the metro continue to struggle with capacity issues, and now the Denver Animal Shelter needs the community to step up to help lighten the load.

While a lot of people adopted and rescued pets over the initial pandemic years, the Denver Animal Shelter has now seen a 35% increase in people surrendering pets since 2019.

DAS said pets are now staying longer in shelters than in years past, which is fueling the crisis with more surrendered pets.

The shelter is asking Denver-area residents to explore more options before surrendering pets, adopting instead of shopping and becoming foster parents. You can also donate to help the shelter as it struggles with capacity.

The shelter is reducing its adoption fee to $5 for a limited time to help offset the issue.

“As the number of pets in our care continues to grow, we’re asking for help from our community,” said DAS Shelter Services Manager Meghan Dillmore in a statement. “While we do everything in our power to find homes for every animal, we’re not always successful. If you are looking to rehome your pet because you think someone else could give it a better life, please reconsider. At this time, the best place for your pet is with you.”