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Pets left behind — in more ways than one — as owners return to work, says Winnipeg Humane Society

Click to play video: 'Pets left behind — in more ways than one — as owners return to work, says Winnipeg Humane Society'
Pets left behind — in more ways than one — as owners return to work, says Winnipeg Humane Society
The Winnipeg Humane Society says the number of pet surrenders continues to increase as workers return to the office, with more than 120 cats and 60 dogs currently on surrender wait-lists. Marek Tkach reports. – Jul 6, 2022

As Manitoba began reducing its COVID-19 restrictions, Winnipeggers began slowly returning to the office, a process that continues today. While businesses are happy to see employees back at their desks, there’s one group that isn’t so excited about it — their pets.

After, in many cases, more than two years of people working from home, dogs and cats aren’t exactly ready for things to go back to the “old” way where they’re left home alone, and organizations like the Winnipeg Humane Society (WHS) are seeing the effects of that shift.

Lenore Hume of the WHS told 680 CJOB’s The Start that the number of pet surrenders continues to increase as workers return to the office, with more than 120 cats and 60 dogs currently on surrender wait-lists.

“We’re starting to see people saying that the reason they do want to surrender their animals is because they’re going back to the office,” she said.

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“They’re having to work 10-, 11-, 12-hour days and they’re starting to worry about the animals being home alone during that time.”

Hume said pets can adapt to the new situation, but if you’re worried about leaving them alone, don’t do it all at once — get your pet used to the idea of you being away.

“You’ve been at home, you’ve been around them the whole time and there can definitely be that separation anxiety,” she said.

“We definitely encourage you to work with your animal, and sort of increase slowly the amount of time you are away, so it’s not just one day you’re there and then one day you’re not.”

Read more: New pet ownership rules coming to Winnipeg in July

Hume said inflation is another factor, and the rising costs of everything — including pet food — are contributing to the problem of surrendered pets.

The WHS food bank, she said, has seen increased demand in recent months.

“The demand is very high. We use (the food bank), obviously, as a tool to keep animals in homes — what can we do for you? How can we help? How can we get you pet food if that’s what you need?

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“As the economy continues to squeeze, I think we’re going to see it even more, definitely.”

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