'A bit of a crisis summer for us': Foster-based animal rescue seeing uptick in surrenders
Summer is normally a busy time for animal rescues and shelters, but one foster-based organization is having a hard time keeping up with demand this year.
During the pandemic, many animal rescue groups saw an increase in adoptions, though as restrictions have eased, those numbers have slowed.
“People are now having more freedom, have the ability to go away, spend more time with their friends and loved ones,” said Jamey Blair, the operations manager at the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society.
“We’re really hoping people will really consider opening their home to an animal.”
The increase in adoptions is resulting in an increase in surrenders for the Infinite Woofs Animal Rescue.
“In Edmonton, I’m getting probably five surrender requests every two days,” said Alisha Petryshyn, the Dog Team coordinator for Infinite Woofs Animal Rescue.
“We’ve seen a huge, huge increase in the number of surrender requests that we’ve been getting in Edmonton, which is really unfortunate.”
According to Petryshyn, they have seen around 100 surrender requests in the last couple of months, as opposed to the average of 10 to 15.
“For a lot of the smaller, foster-based rescues it’s a bit of a crisis summer for us, we’re feeling a bit overwhelmed,” added Petryshyn.
The society has no capacity left to accept dogs, cats or small animals, like rabbits, due to the influx.
“Most of the surrender requests are due to pandemic-related reasons, such as going back to work, new job, unfortunately a lot of evictions,” said Petryshyn.
The increase in surrenders isn’t something being seen by other organizations like the Humane Society, who are only experiencing average summer numbers for surrenders.
“That’s something that we’re keeping an eye on as people’s lives continue to change due to COVID,” said Kylie Adams, manager of communications and marketing with the Humane Society.
As people prepare to come back to the office after working from home for so long, separation anxiety is something the Humane Society is concerned about.
“It’s something that proactively, if we can address and hopefully prevent these separation anxiety issues from being a problem in the first place, then we can prevent those more difficult decisions down the road, such as surrendering a pet,” said Adams.
She points out that dogs specifically thrive on consistency and that there are ways to prepare animals for you to be around the house less.
“Waking up to meal times, to walk times, to bed times, if you can get that on a similar schedule to what it will look like when you’re in the office… that will make that transition smoother,” said Adams.
“Start with short periods of time where you leaving them and then gradually increase that time so they can become more comfortable with you being away.”
Making the occasion of you leaving the house into a positive experience, such as with a cone stuffed with treats and peanut butter, is another recommended idea.
The Humane Society has free resources on their website and professional trainers on staff to help people deal with separation anxiety in their pets.
“Hopefully we won’t see those trends of people having to return their pets because we can take those steps and prevent those issues today,” said Adams.
The reason that shelters like the Humane Society or the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society aren’t seeing an uptick in surrenders could be due to the fact that they are shelters, not foster-based organizations, according to Petryshyn.
“When we communicate with people that we’re not available to take an animal, lots of them are very hesitant to want to take them to the Humane Society or a shelter, because there is a misconception about what would happen to the animal when they go there,” said Petryshyn.
“I think they want to see their animal placed in a home environment until an adopter can be found.”
She advises people look for alternatives to surrendering their animals, such as leaving them with friends, family or neighbours. There are also options like doggie daycare and dog walkers to help look after pets while owners aren’t at home.
“I know that’s not necessarily available to everyone, but there are some options that some people might not have looked at that might be a good option for their family, and then they can keep their pet as well,” said Petryshyn.
“Please avoid posting your animals on Kijiji or Craigslist, places like that, because you just don’t know where they’ll end up.”
She also highlights the need for foster homes, which would allow the society to take in more animals.
“Whatever you can help us with, we would really just appreciate it so much,” added Petryshyn.
Pet food banks are also available for owners who are struggling with feeding their pets.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Ryan Harding
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