Dog rescues are overstretched as people abandon pandemic puppies


The Kingston Humane Society says it has never seen more dogs in care than in the past month – a trend it attributes to a pre-pandemic return to life for dog owners.

Gord Hunter, the association’s executive director, said last week they had 62 dogs at the shelter and more than 100 in foster care.

Not all returned dogs are puppies. Some are rescues, and Hunter said there are potentially behavioral or medical issues with rescue dogs that can make them more engaged.

“We find that once people returned to their pre-pandemic lifestyle, they weren’t able or willing to maintain that commitment,” Hunter told CBC Radio. All in one day.

There has also been an increase in the number of veterinary clinics turning to the Humane Society because some owners cannot afford the care their dogs need.

“This animal, unfortunately, got stranded simply because people didn’t consider or weren’t able to cover the vet bill,” Hunter said.

In addition to clinics, the shelter also receives referrals from the Provincial Animal Welfare Services team.

Currently, 24 of the shelter’s dogs are being held while the team investigates two cases of animal abuse. While Hunter said such investigations are common, he’s never seen so many dogs needing care for just two investigations.

Puppy mills, ‘backyard breeders’ saw an opportunity

Mike Gatta, adoption director for Ottawa Dog Rescue, said Kingston’s experience matches what he’s seen.

With the huge demand for pets during the pandemic, Gatta said scammers and puppy mills saw an opportunity and became more prevalent.

“Backyard breeders, puppy mills, it doesn’t matter who buys the dog as long as they get their $3,000 for their cute little mixed breed that they crossed with the neighbor’s dog,” he said. he declares.

Mike Gatta is the Adoption Director at Ottawa Dog Rescue. (Submitted by Mike Gatta)

Registered breeders perform blood tests, monitor for birth defects, breed behavioral traits and often have a clause in purchase contracts that they’ll take dogs back if there’s a problem, Gatta said.

But without those regulations, Gatta said he’s seen dogs cost their new owners thousands of dollars in vet bills – including a case where someone was thinking of buying a Chihuahua and ended up with an Italian Greyhound that had been kept in a box to retard its growth.

Owners’ lives changed by pandemic upheaval

Ottawa Dog Rescue also received more calls than ever to accept surrenders. He does not have a shelter, but coordinates approximately 40-60 foster care placements.

Gatta said there has been an increase in people unable to care for active dogs such as German Shepherds and huskies.

“Either they were working from home and now they are gone, or they were living in a house and now they are in an apartment. Or maybe they were married and now they are not. These are all valid reasons for having to give up a dog,” Gatta said.

For others returning to work and activities outside the home, they notice that their pets have not been properly trained or socialized due to pandemic restrictions.

“Dogs suffer from separation anxiety, have leash reactivity, reactivity to other dogs, lack of socialization, all those kinds of issues,” Gatta said.

For owners hoping to ease the transition, Gatta said the rescue routinely trains dogs as young as eight or nine years old.

“It’s never too late to practice,” Gatta said. “It’s a lot more about training the people than training the dog, anyway.”