For Amanda McLuhan, the call to the Save Grace Animal Association never seemed to stop.
Although the wave of puppy adoptions has slowed during the pandemic, animal rescue operations in the small village of Alix in Alta province still receive many calls from people who want to adopt animals they care for.
But in recent weeks, more and more people have asked whether their facilities can accept cats and dogs that their owners no longer care about.
The pandemic may be a factor in surrender
McLuhan, the association’s development director, said it’s not that people are tired of pandemic puppies and are returning them, but she said that for many people who abandon animals, the pandemic does seem to be a factor.
“Maybe they are finding a new job. Maybe they are on vacation, so they don’t have the funds,” McLuhan said.
Watch | Some animal shelters warn that pet surrenders are increasing:
“I just think that people are trying to get back to their normal lives, maybe, the animals are a bit slippery.”
As intake increases, Saving Grace is not the only group watching vigilantly.
Animal rescue organizations in Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Alta, and Sudbury, Ontario all told CBC that they were concerned about the number of surrender requests received.
Haviva Porter, the founder of Rabbit Rescue Inc., said that in Toronto, the number of abandoned rabbits has surged.
She said that her charity is in its busiest year in 20 years of operation, and in the last month, she has seen a significant increase in the number of rabbits that owners give up.
“We have just passed July, and we have received more rabbits than in April, May and June combined.”
As the rescue is overwhelmed and the rabbit has nowhere to face euthanasia, Porter said she hopes those who want to give up the rabbit can hold on for a while.
Prepare for the post-pandemic transition
Despite these reports, the head of the Humane Society of Canada, which represents the National Humane Association, SPCA, and Animal Rescue, said they did not see any significant differences in the surrender of members.
“In fact, in some cases, we have seen a drop in surrender rates,” said CEO Barbara Cartwright.
When the surrender occurred, she said it was because people were in crisis—not because they lost interest in pets.
She said the pandemic is a factor because it puts people into financial difficulties and unable to take care of their pets.
As many Canadians prepare to return to offices and schools in the fall, Cartwright said her organization is focused on preparing for a successful transition for hosts and pets.
She recommends that pet owners be prepared in the following ways:
- Make sure pets have toys and snacks to keep them entertained and involved during the day;
- If pets stay indoors alone for a long time, please hire pet walkers;
- Watch for signs of pet anxiety, and if the animal cannot cope well, go to the veterinarian.
For pet owners who feel overwhelmed or financially struggling, Cartwright recommends seeking help from local animal rescue organizations.
She said they can provide resources such as pet food banks for struggling pet owners to help them tide over the difficulties and raise their animals.
“As you might imagine, giving up your pet is a terrible feeling, and all we want to do is to get the family together,” she said.