There has been an increase in the number of pets being turned over to Toronto shelters as people return to work after years of COVID-19 restrictions and grapple with rising costs.
Sue Shearstone, manager of shelter operations at Toronto Animal Services, said that in the last six months there has been a 60 percent increase in the number of animals arriving at shelters compared to the same period in 2021.
“We have people (who) have gotten pets during the pandemic and they can’t take care of them,” Shearstone said.
“They may have had to go back to work or maybe they have a dog that they didn’t research the breed and don’t understand the requirements of that particular dog. So we’re seeing a lot of bigger dogs, two to four years old, not very well trained, maybe (with) anxiety.”
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Shearstone said inflationary pressures are also a factor.
She said Toronto Animal Services continues to try to work with owners to keep their pets at home.
“We’ve been through the pandemic, we’ve been trying to support people,” he said, noting that there have been programs that have provided food and resources for homeowners.
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“If people get a pet, they need to consider those costs. But if you’re having a hard time, please reach out to us and we can try to provide resources where we can, for sure.”
The city of Toronto also has a moving truck which provides free microchips, vaccinations and pet food at temporary events.
Shearstone said there are currently waiting lists to deliver pets, and animal services is working with the public to manage the tickets.
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“We ask that they take the time to potentially find the owner of their new home, but if they are unsuccessful, we will certainly partner with them and help them and accept the animal,” he said.
“But we try to make it so that, again, we’re not (receiving) an overwhelming number, it’s a manageable number and we can get them into homes more quickly.”
Shearstone said Toronto Animal Services is also seeking the public’s help in finding new homes for the animals.
She encouraged potential owners to research what it takes to own a pet, from food costs to vet costs to exercise levels.
Shearstone also encouraged people to consider Toronto Animal Services’ foster program, in which people take pets out of shelters for a period of time.
She said that sometimes, after a short-term foster program, a person can fall in love with the animal and keep it as a pet.
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