Taylor has been staying at the Lethbridge Animal Shelter since December.
“She’s an amazing cat,” shelter animal care team lead Abby Oriold said. “She’s super affectionate, not a lot of work.”
And she’s not alone. Some dogs and cats — like Taylor — have been shelter residents for months.
Beginning late last year, officials say animals started coming in at a higher rate. Since February, the shelter has been operating at overcapacity.
“I see first-hand the kennel stress they go through on a day-to-day basis and how it changes their personality,” Oriold said.
“There’s a high demand to intake animals and there seems to be less demand to adopt,” Skylar Plourde said.
The director of services for Community Animal Services sees more and more pets surrendered to the shelter and he said another factor is boosting numbers.
“Less animals are being claimed by their owner,” Plourde said. “Some animals even come in with identification or they’re wearing a collar and dragging a leash down the sidewalk.”
“We pick them up and nobody ever comes forward.”
He can’t be certain, but Plourde said he believes people are giving up their “pandemic pets” now that many public health restrictions have lifted.
“People rushing out getting adoptable pets were only thinking in the moment, ‘Great, now the kids have something to do, teach them some responsibility. We can go out and walk dogs in the park.’ No one was thinking the long-term part of that, the long-term costs of veterinary care,” Plourde said.
But while the number of available pets is up, the wish to adopt has not risen along with it.
“(It) used to be, people would be banging down the doors to get to these puppies and we aren’t getting any interest in them at all,” Plourde said.
He is imploring anyone looking for a new pet to adopt, adding many shelters are facing the same problems happening in Lethbridge.
“Our staff will facilitate to make sure pets are going to a home they won’t be returned from, obviously, and that it’s the best home for that animal’s particular needs,” Plourde said.
Anyone interested in adopting is encouraged to look at available animals on Community Animal Services’ website or to contact the shelter.