Jack Knox: Pets are flowing back into the SPCA after a surge in adoption during the pandemic

This was feared by the Victoria Humane Society.

All of those pandemic pets, the COVID companions that people stuck at home bought last year? The tide has turned and some are streaming back.

Worse still, there is nowhere to put them – or at least nowhere to put them inappropriately.

And that’s why the non-profit group is looking for a benefactor with a free space to house the dogs. If that sounds like a long shot, it just reflects the pressure they’re in.

That story dates back to 2020 when people who usually worked in downtown offices or snowbirding in Arizona began to crave furry friends. The thing was, demand exceeded supply, as did toilet paper and hand sanitizer this spring.

This was true everywhere.

In Vancouver, the BC SPCA submitted 200 applications for a single puppy.

Backyard growers averaged thousands. Australian animal shelters charged adoption fees of up to $ 1,800.

“Fear of dog smuggling, as the prices for barred puppies rise by up to 89 percent,” warned the banner over a story of the British Sky News.

To make matters worse, institutions like the Humane Society found that the pet pipeline was shut down. Remote British Columbia communities that used to bring cats and dogs to Vancouver Island were self-isolating, with no people going in, no animals going out.

Yet even as it tried to deal with the dog shortage over the past year, society wondered what would happen when the world opened up again.

In fact, the organization is now being overwhelmed by people who want to give up pets. “We currently have more than 100 dogs and puppies in care,” says managing director Penny Stone. There are nearly 200 cats and kittens.

The people who care for them are busy, so society has to turn away owners who want to give up their animals. “This is the first time we’ve had to say ‘no’ and take waiting lists,” says Stone.

The thing is, pets are not necessarily given away for the expected reasons. Yes, there are owners who, after returning to the office, throw away dogs that no longer fit into their lives.

Yes, there are people who just can’t afford them (like the 2008 meltdown when SPCA staff came to find a dog tied to the railing and a box of kittens on the steps).

> See KNOX, A2

Much larger numbers of animals, however, are being given up by people who feel overwhelmed by the strain of the pandemic.

“It’s people who are badly affected by COVID,” Stone said. They find caring for a pet to be an additional psychological burden. “You’d think that having an animal would make it easier to deal with.” No, the opposite is true for some.

In addition, many of the dogs have their own problems – they are untrained, unsocialized. That’s a problem because while there’s no shortage of foster homes for simple dogs (volunteers can’t even respond to all applications to host an eight-month-old Golden Retriever), when Spot is older and anxious and comes with luggage, it’s a different story . Send such a dog to a foster home, it will likely be returned three days later.

So the organization is looking for a place where volunteers can take pets to the point of foster care. “What we need is a facility where we can take these dogs in and teach them that the world is a safe place,” says Marie Zirk from the Animal Welfare Association.

A cultivation area with space for many dogs and overnight accommodation for people would be ideal. If that sounds like a big question, it can’t hurt to point it out.

What else should you do? The animals move on. They have just taken in 14 dogs who, after being isolated, are not mean but are scared of everything around them. Stone has just picked up 53 cats and kittens from a remote community.

She gets dogs from forest fire refugees, including people who have burned out of their homes in Lytton.

When vets and animal trainers are beaten up (Stone says finding a veterinarian is as difficult as finding a family doctor), it’s not uncommon to see pets with health and behavioral problems.

If the people they want to turn in are turned away, what will the fate of Old Yeller be?

This is what it looks like when the tide turns.

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