Alberta animal rescue groups feel caught off guard as pandemic pets are turned away

“I’m so short on space. We even posted some of the pictures from the pound, of the dogs that are in the pound, because we can’t even fit them in”

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At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, with people stuck at home for months, the Second Chance Animal Rescue Society could rack up 100 requests for a single litter of puppies.

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When people retreated to home offices and kids attended virtual classrooms from the kitchen table, new pets were in high demand. Many people only had time to devote to training a new furry family member, sometimes leaving rescue organizations like SCARS scrambling to keep up.

“It’s not that problem right now, unfortunately,” says Sylvia Christiansen, executive director of SCARS.

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The Edmonton-based animal rescue group held an adoption event in Sherwood Park on Saturday, with 36 dogs and cats available for families to meet and bring home. The pets included two pens of fluffy puppies that two years ago would likely have been scavenged before they were even listed as available.

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Adopt-a-pet day
Three sister puppies are waiting to be adopted at Adopt-A-Pet Day hosted by the Second Chance Animal Rescue Society (SCARS). The past two years have been tough for animal rescue and the return of this annual event will give people the opportunity to meet, bond and potentially adopt one of Sherwood Ford’s more than twenty dogs and cats. who staged the event at Sherwood Park on Saturday. , April 30, 2022. Ed Kaiser/Postmedia Photo by Ed Kaiser /Postmedia

It’s been difficult to organize in-person events like the one on Saturday for much of the past two years, but Christiansen said the organization has its hands full of animals and hopes to continue to organize more.

The rescue currently supports over 200 animals, including around 100 dogs.

“I need space so badly. We even posted some of the photos from the pound, of the dogs that are in the pound, because we can’t even integrate them,” Christiansen said.

It’s currently kitten season, when animal welfare organizations are most overwhelmed with new litters of stray cats. But on top of that, the number of animals being returned to SCARS is higher than normal, a phenomenon rescue agencies have seen across North America.

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Christiansen said that despite their best efforts to screen adopters and try to ensure a good match with a new pet, they could expect around eight returns each month. Currently, those numbers are around 12 returns per month – not an overwhelming torrent, but it’s still straining resources as new animals keep arriving.

“We knew this was coming. It was no surprise,” Christiansen said. She sees everything from people unable to cope with the behavioral issues that emerge when dog owners return to in-person work, to adopters realizing they simply don’t have time to properly care for an animal. .

“Now people have resumed regular working hours and the economy is not helping. People are taking a closer look at their money.

This adds to a tough time for rescues trying to navigate the ups and downs of the impact of the pandemic. Christiansen said anyone looking for a new pet should consider rescue first, with so many animals available and in need.

“It’s still the same old thing,” she said. “There are just too many.”

Eleven dogs and 17 cats were adopted at Saturday’s event with more applications “pending”.

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Twitter: @meksmith

Adopt-a-pet day
Eight-month-old Honey was just adopted at Adopt-A-Pet Day hosted by the Second Chance Animal Rescue Society (SCARS) on Saturday, April 30, 2022. The past two years have been tough for Animal Rescue and the return of this annual event will give people the chance to meet, bond and potentially adopt one of over twenty dogs and cats from Sherwood Ford who have hosted the event at Sherwood Park. Ed Kaiser/Postmedia Photo by Ed Kaiser /Postmedia

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