For many animal rescues across Alberta, every day right now is a struggle due to myriad issues.
“This is by far the toughest time we’ve ever faced,” said Erin Deems, co-executive director of Saving Grace Animal Society. “Normally we have one thing working against us, but right now in the relief community it seems like everything is working against us,”
The central Alberta rescue saw a sharp drop in adoptions, which is a huge change from the peak of the pandemic.
“A puppy would be on our website for 24 hours before, and now we’re seeing it can be longer than two to three weeks,” Deems said.
Also, donations are down. Last month, they only covered 40% of Saving Grace’s medical bills.
“In reality, if we continue to have more months like our last months, we wouldn’t go to the end of the year.”
Additionally, the Alix-based rescue group must drive further and further to find vets to treat their animals due to a shortage of vets.
But perhaps the worst problem is all the surrender demands.
“We are just seeing an unfortunate increase in COVID returns. We receive many people who have adopted puppies from us. Now the dogs are about two years old and we are seeing behavioral issues with them,” Deems said.
“They take a lot longer in our system to be assessed, retrained, and then adopted to find another home.”
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It is the same situation in Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS).
Deanna Thompson is the Executive Director of AARCS, with shelters in Calgary and Edmonton.
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“I think people have gone back to work, they’re going on vacation, interest rates, the price of gas and groceries, the war — all of those things have caught people’s attention elsewhere, and we are going through really difficult times here. In fact, the worst I’ve seen,” Thompson said.
Right now rescues are also dealing with kitten season.
“We get all these calls for stray pregnant cats and kittens and it’s heartbreaking to have to say no,” Thompson explained.
The problem is that the rescues are completely full and there is simply no more room.
“Our phone is constantly ringing with people looking to give up dogs and cats, but we can’t bring any more as we are at capacity here in the shelter, as well as with foster families,” Thompson said. .
Kath Oltsher is co-founder of ZOE Animal Rescue Society.
“We are struggling. We are packed,” Oltsher said.
“We are the most complete we have ever been.”
She said ZOE is proud to welcome animals with behavioral issues that other groups cannot. But for now, that’s not possible.
“Because we say no, they have nowhere to go,” Oltsher explained. “We are trying very hard to stay positive.”
Saving Grace had to shut down its intake weeks ago.
“We are on a triage system. So that means if the animal dies if we don’t intervene, we will take it. But for now, that’s all we’re doing. And that keeps us more than busy,” Deems said.
The three survivors are in desperate need of foster homes.
“If there’s a foster home that comes along, we can move a dog, that’s one more life saved,” Thompson said.
“It’s usually very short term, it’s two weeks. You open your home, we provide everything, all you provide is love. It just allows us to continue to rescue, it allows us to take in more animals,” Deems added.
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And if you are able to adopt, it will also open up another place for an animal in need.
Those who cannot foster a pet are still encouraged to consider volunteering – walking dogs, cuddling cats, doing laundry or organizing fundraisers.
Donations are also essential.
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