Alberta animal rescue groups feel pressured as pandemic pets are returned

“I’m so desperate for space. We even posted some of the kennel pictures, dogs that are in the kennel, because we couldn’t even fit them in”

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During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, with people stuck at home for months on end, the Second Chance Animal Rescue Society managed to get 100 requests for a single litter of puppies.

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When people retreated to home offices and children attended virtual classrooms from the kitchen table, new pets were in high demand. Many people had nothing but time to train a new furry family member, sometimes leaving rescue organizations like SCARS struggling to keep up.

“It’s not that problem right now, unfortunately,” says SCARS Executive Director Sylvia Christiansen.

The Edmonton-based animal rescue group hosted an adoption event at Sherwood Park on Saturday, with 36 dogs and cats available for families to meet and take home. The pets included two cute puppy pens that, two years ago, would likely have been purchased before they were even listed as available.

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Event of the Day Adopt a Pet
Three sister dogs waiting to be adopted during Adopt a Pet Day promoted by the Second Chance Animal Rescue Society (SCARS). The past two years have been challenging for animal rescue and the return of this annual event will give people the chance to meet, bond with and potentially adopt one of over twenty dogs and cats at Sherwood Ford that hosted the event in Sherwood Park, April 30, 2022. Ed Kaiser/Postmedia Photo by Ed Kaiser /postmedia

It has been difficult to have in-person events like a Saturday one over the past two years, but Christiansen said the organization is full of animals and hopes to continue organizing more.

The rescue is currently caring for over 200 animals, including around 100 dogs.

“I’m so desperate for space. We even posted some of the kennel pictures, dogs that are in the kennel, because we couldn’t even fit them in,” Christiansen said.

It is currently kitten season, the time when animal rescue organizations are most overwhelmed with new litters of stray cats. But beyond that, the number of animals returned to SCARS is higher than usual, a phenomenon that rescue agencies have seen across North America.

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Christiansen said that despite their best efforts to track adopters and try to ensure a good match with a new pet, they can expect about eight returns a month. These numbers currently amount to around 12 returns per month – not an overwhelming torrent, but it is still straining resources as new animals keep arriving.

“We knew this was going to happen. It wasn’t a surprise,” Christiansen said. She’s seeing everything from people unable to cope with the behavioral issues that arise when dog owners return to personal work, to adopters realizing they just don’t have the time to properly care for an animal anymore.

“Now people are back to working regular hours and the economy is not helping. People are looking at their money more closely.”

It’s becoming a challenging time for rescues trying to cope with the ups and downs of the pandemic’s impact. Christiansen said anyone looking for a new pet should look to rescue first, with so many animals available and in need.

“It’s always the same thing,” she said. “Are many.”

11 dogs and 17 cats were adopted during today’s event with further requests “in progress”.

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Twitter: @meksmith

Event of the Day Adopt a Pet
All that’s left out is 8-month-old Honey, who was just adopted during Adopt-A-Pet Day hosted by the Second Chance Animal Rescue Society (SCARS). The past two years have been challenging for animal rescue and the return of this annual event will give people the chance to meet, bond with and potentially adopt one of over twenty dogs and cats at Sherwood Ford that hosted the event in Sherwood Park, April 30, 2022. Ed Kaiser/Postmedia Photo by Ed Kaiser /postmedia

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