Animal rescue organizations see influx of surrendered animals after the pandemic

Animal rescue organizations struggle with burnout and mounting pressure to find suitable homes for adoptable pets.

Meant 2B Loved Pet Rescue in Cranbrook is temporarily suspending animal adoption, as is the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS) as every organization struggles with an influx of surrendered animals.

Meant 2B Loved is an entirely volunteer-run animal rescue organization operating in the East Kootenay area. It takes in returned animals for the purpose of finding foster homes and permanent homes.

Board member Stacie Johnson says that since the pandemic has slowed, adoption and foster rates have also increased. The association has made the difficult decision to stop taking in animals because its members have exhausted all their resources.

“This is not a decision that we have taken lightly. We have had a huge increase in the number of local surrenders and the number of suitable foster homes we have has decreased,” Johnson said. everyone was home, and now it’s the opposite.”

Deanna Thompson, executive director of AARCS, said her organization faces similar challenges.

“Every shelter and rescue feels it,” Thompson said. “We saw a 200 percent increase in adoption applications in 2020 compared to 2019, and families came in droves to adopt pets. By August 2022, we will not only have gone back to pre-COVID numbers, but we will see a further decline in the number of applications from 2019 onwards.

“People going back to work, or a life change they couldn’t see coming, including the effects of inflation, are forcing people to give up their pets at higher rates. We also see behavioral problems in dogs raised during the pandemic that are undersocialized, requiring extensive and time-consuming rehabilitation.”

“Couple that with an increase in animals in need, and we’ve reached a capacity within the animal welfare system that we haven’t seen in years.”

One of the best ways to help, Johnson said, is to donate to your local rescue company.

“We are so grateful to our current foster families for being so patient with us and the animals. And also to the other organizations that have helped us,” Johnson said.

Meanwhile, a parallel shortage of available veterinary care may result in some animals not being spayed or neutered.

“This can produce unwanted offspring or contribute to surrender if people can’t afford veterinary care,” Thompson said.

Johnson said part of their reason for suspending intake is to make sure they aren’t overwhelming vets. She hopes the hiatus can be lifted in 4-6 weeks, adding that board members face verbal abuse and increasing anxiety.

“We save animals, that’s our number one priority: making sure they are healthy and find a good home for them.”
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