Calgary officials say the city’s animal welfare organizations “are in crisis,” with animal abandonments on the rise, adoptions on the decline and many animals in need of care.
The city released a statement on Wednesday – in conjunction with the Calgary Humane Society and the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS) – saying that due to these factors, pet shelters, humane societies and animal shelters rescue are now full.
The Calgary Humane Society shelter is focusing on emergency admissions as it is over capacity with a waiting list and a backlog of postponement applications.
“We are collectively seeing a huge increase in the number of animals that need our help right now,” Anna-Lee Rieb, animal adoption manager at the Humane Society, said in an interview on the Calgary Eye Opener.
AARCS executive director Deanna Thompson said staff have seen a 200 per cent increase in people seeking to return their pets.
The organization is also dealing with an outbreak of distemper in the dogs at the shelter, so it has not been able to accept any dogs for two weeks. It is also at full capacity for cats and rabbits.
“We’re reaching out to Calgarians to consider adopting a pet now, or if they can’t adopt, to consider welcoming an animal into their home to help ease the pressure for the shelter” , she said.
Throughout the pandemic, many pet rescue organizations have noticed an increase in adoptions as people stay home.
Some people are now facing difficult financial situations or a problematic work schedule, causing them to give up on their pets, Rieb said. Some also deal with pets that are more reactive or fearful than normal.
“We see a lot of COVID dogs going through [with] really challenging behaviors, complex behaviors due to maybe being under-socialized or not getting proper training during this pandemic time,” Rieb said.
These animals also add additional pressures on staff as problematic pets require more support to rehabilitate.
“It really comes down to healing ability,” Rieb said.
“Our human resources, our volunteer resources, our financial resources, and all of these pressure points that we are experiencing are straining what we are able to do as an organization.”
The Humane Society and AARCS allow prospective pet owners to choose their own adoption fees.
The city encourages pet owners to try to resolve any issues before resorting to surrendering their pet.
It’s also temporarily suspending the city’s cat trapping program, where cats stray off their owner’s property are humanely captured, and reinstating appointment-only dog adoptions until the crisis subsides. .