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Calgary animal rescues seeing surge in number of surrendered dogs

The Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS) has more than 200 dogs in its care. Global News

In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a dog adoption boom, according to Calgary animal rescues. But now, two years later, some of those rescue organizations are seeing a growing number of dogs being surrendered by their owners.

“We are definitely seeing, based on the ages of these dogs that… are being surrendered, that it’s about that two-year mark,” said Brad Nichol with the Calgary Humane Society.

“So, you know, anecdotally, there’s probably a correlation there with the dogs that were impulsively bought during the beginning of the pandemic and the return to real life.”

Read more: Animal adoptions slow in B.C. after pandemic rush

The Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society said it has also seeing a surge in the number of dogs being surrendered.

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“Our teams are getting requests every single day,” said Rachel Cote with AARCS.

“When you look at the first quarter of 2021 versus 2022, what we’ve actually seen is the number of (dog surrender) requests has doubled.”

On top of a growing number of surrenders, animal rescues are also seeing adoptions slowing down.

Saving Grace Animal Society in Alix, Alta., has taken to social media to issue an urgent call for adoptions:

saving grace rescue
Saving Grace Animal Society has issued an urgent call for dog adoptions. Saving Grace Animal Rescue

Cote said she knows the decision to rehome an animal is a difficult one to make, and while there are a variety of factors, there are two main reasons why owners report that they are surrendering their pet.

“The first is behaviour. Perhaps they were adopted during COVID — they missed that critical socialization period. We’re seeing fear… separation anxiety, and it’s just not feasible to stay in their home,” Cote said.

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“The second reason is we know there are a lot of people having to make some difficult financial decisions for their family, and we know that ultimately, a really expensive vet bill could make or break their paycheque.”

Read more: Calgary Cares: Parachutes for Pets helps struggling animal owners during COVID-19 pandemic

AARCS has more than 200 dogs in Calgary and Edmonton currently in its care for a variety of reasons.

The Calgary Humane Society is undergoing renovations, so it is full as well, but can only accommodate about half its normal capacity.

While the Calgary animal agencies are looking to find new families for the dogs up for adoption, they also want to ensure that their new home is forever.

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