Rising costs are leaving people in a difficult position where they are having to surrender their pets, according to Winnipeg Animal Services, who say they are overwhelmed with dogs who have been surrendered.
Manager Leland Gordon says before the pandemic they were usually taking care of around 20 pups at a time. Now, it’s up to 35.
“We have people getting rid of their dogs, we have people who have gone out and gotten dogs, who were struggling taking care of themselves and then they got a dog and now they can’t take care of their dog,”
Gordon says people are dumping the dogs either on the streets or surrendering the animals under the false pretense of a stray dog.
“We have some people who come to animal services and they will be standing next to a dog and they will be saying this is a stray dog they found and they will be lying, it’s actually their dog.”
He says inflation is definitely eating at pet owners’ wallets and shelters have running waitlists to surrender pets as more animals are being abandoned, which is further contributing to the number of strays.
Winnipeg Animal Services over capacity with rescues
“Right now all the animal shelters in Winnipeg are full. All the shelters are turning people away when they just show up,” he added.
“They’ve got a months and months-long waiting list for people to give up their pets. And it’s sad.”
Meanwhile, the continued influx of pets coming to the Winnipeg Humane Society has resulted in a six-month wait for new admissions, and in some cases owners are dropping off pets outside of working hours, according to CEO Jessica Miller.
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“We can only assume that some people having nowhere else to turn are turning to letting their animals loose,” she says.
“We do everything we can to get to this waiting list but there’s only so many animals that can fit in the shelter at one time so it’s definitely been a hard year, to say the least.”
Miller says the society has to try to “triage” new admissions — similar to an emergency department — and let them in based on the likelihood they’d survive if they’re turned away.
Animal Services and shelters aren’t the only ones overwhelmed with the amount of animals being dropped off. According to veterinarian Gurdeep Pannu, vet clinics are also noticing the shift.
He says financing vet bills has exploded in the past couple of years and emergencies can put pet owners in a tough spot.
“They have to make a hard choice, either surrendering their animals or euthanizing them. Which is a really hard choice, I can’t imagine myself being in that situation.”
Additionally, Gordon says almost every dog coming into Animal Services is not spayed, neutered, licensed, or vaccinated.
He says he needs more people in the community to stop and think before getting a pet as right now they have this endless cycle of shelters and rescues struggling with unwanted pets.
Animals Services capacity is 20 dogs and they have been at 30-35 for a while now, Gordon added. “We love these dogs, but it’s just getting too much.”
Anyone who would like to help financially, adopt or foster a pet can do so on the city’s website under ‘Animal Services.’
— with files from Global’s Iris Dyck
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