Victoria dog saves at bursting point as pandemic pets are abandoned

Pandemic closures have created a massive demand for dogs. But now, with restrictions lifted and people heading back to work, some dog owners are finding Fido no longer fits their plans.

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Some of the people who rushed to get a dog during the early days of the pandemic lockdown are changing their minds – and the eruption of “surrenders” is creating a crisis for animal rescue groups.

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“It’s crazy,” said Penny Stone, executive director of the Victoria Humane Society, which is at capacity with more than 80 dogs in care this week.

The company receives five calls a day from people asking to return their pets. The waiting list is 30 dogs and continues to grow, with up to five requests per day, leaving the foster network extremely thin with all the demand.

Tara Craigen, who runs a small pet rescue company in Victoria, said she gets daily requests for ‘owner surrender’ but has had to turn people away because she’s on full ability with dogs already up for adoption or that she was still caring for dogs with behavioral issues. completely ready for a new home.

“We’ve had to pump the brakes here because we have our own internal issues,” said Craigen, who fosters 10 dogs with her Rosier Days Dog Rescue Society.

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Jesse Adams, co-founder of the RainCoast Dog Rescue Society, said his group receives between two and five messages a day. Its foster network is at full capacity with 18 dogs currently being cared for, and a long waiting list is forming.

Pandemic closures have created a massive demand for dogs in the area. But now, with restrictions lifted and people heading back to work, some dog owners are finding Fido no longer fits their plans.

And that’s too bad, Stone said.

“Everyone has a reason – ‘I’m going back to work, I’m stressed, I never left him alone. I can’t afford it.

“People thought [the pandemic] was a great time to get a dog because they thought they were going to be home, but a lot of people weren’t thinking long-term about what it takes to train a dog,” Stone said.

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Returning to work or changing your habits, dogs may experience separation anxiety and act out, or show fear or aggression when the owner begins to bring more people into the home, Craigen said.

Rescue groups have strict rules and an application process for prospective dog adopters, asking questions about home life and working hours, and explaining breed needs and behaviors and informing potential owners of ongoing costs and time required for training.

Stone said the high demand for dogs has spawned “backyard breeders who have come out of nowhere to make a quick buck” and fuel the insatiable demand.

Some dog owners have also bought puppies online, some in the United States, but find that there is no recourse – or return – if they encounter problems with the dog, so the animals end up often in the shelter system.

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“We see a lot of purebred boxers, Australian shepherds, golden retrievers, people who have paid dearly for them and can’t take care of them anymore,” Stone said.

In some cases, owners say they can’t afford a dog’s medical care, like neutering or food, even after shelling out hundreds or thousands of dollars for the purebred pup, Stone said. .

“We have such a great medical system in Canada and maybe people don’t realize that doesn’t apply to dogs,” Stone said.

“Vet visits can start at $150 just to get in there. If they have to have surgery for a blockage or something, it’s going to cost $3,500 or $4,000 because that’s what it is.

“That stuff you’re supposed to figure out in advance.”

Rescue groups also insist on the need to train the dogs. It’s not always easy, especially when it comes to correcting bad behavior. It takes repetitive work and patience.

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You can hire professional dog trainers, but Craigen points out that this is an unregulated industry and “not all are created equal.”

She demands personal attention with “training based on positive rewards [food and praise]to solve behavior problems.

Stone said raising a dog is a lot like raising a family member.

“They need to be fed. They need to know they are safe and sometimes you have to show them what is right. Dogs naturally want to please us,” she said.

She is disappointed with the instinctive reactions of some people to have a pet. “There’s a sense of entitlement there, some people today want what they want, when they want it…without thinking about it.”

Craigen has a mixed-breed female called Wendy, who is around five or six years old and was rescued from Afghanistan last year. Wendy has participated in adoption trials twice and returned – once because she refused to get into a truck and the second time because she pulled her leash too hard.

“In my opinion, Wendy is our most adoptable dog,” Craigen said. “She’s an independent girl.

“Sometimes it just takes time to bond. [Dogs] are not static. They look a lot like us; they have good days and they have bad days. It takes time to know what lifestyle they thrive in.

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