Animal rescue organizations are grappling with burnout and increasing pressure to find suitable homes for adoptable pets.
Meant 2B Loved Pet Rescue in Cranbrook is temporarily suspending pet admissions, as is the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS), as each organization grapples with an influx of strays.
Meant 2B Loved is an entirely volunteer-run pet rescue society that operates throughout the East Kootenay region. He takes in abandoned animals with the aim of finding foster homes and permanent homes.
Board member Stacie Johnson said that since the pandemic has slowed, adoption and fostering rates have also declined. The society made the difficult decision to stop taking animals as the members exhausted all their resources.
“This is not a decision we took lightly. We’ve had a huge increase in local surrenders and the number of suitable foster families we’ve had has dropped,” Johnson said. “We had a surplus of fosters and adopters during COVID when everyone was home, and now it’s the opposite.”
Deanna Thompson, executive director of AARCS, said her organization faces similar challenges.
“Every shelter and rescue feels it,” Thompson said. “We saw a 200% increase in adoption applications in 2020 compared to 2019, and families came in droves to adopt pets. In August 2022, not only are we back to pre-COVID numbers, but we are seeing a further decrease in claims from 2019.
“People returning to work or a life change they didn’t see coming, including the effects of inflation, are forcing people to abandon their pets at higher rates. We are also seeing behavioral issues in dogs that have grown up during the pandemic and are under-socialized, requiring long, drawn-out rehabilitation.
“Add to that an increase in the number of animals in need, and we’ve reached a capacity within the animal welfare system that we haven’t seen in years.”
One of the best ways to help, Johnson said, is to donate to your local relief society.
“We are very grateful to our current foster families who have been so patient with us and the animals. And to the other organizations that have helped us as well,” Johnson said.
Meanwhile, a parallel shortage of available veterinary care could result in some animals not being neutered or neutered.
“It could produce unwanted offspring or contribute to dropouts if people can’t afford veterinary care,” Thompson said.
Johnson said part of their reason for suspending intakes was to make sure they didn’t overwhelm vets. She hopes the break can be lifted in 4-6 weeks, adding that board members are facing verbal abuse and growing anxiety.
“We save animals, it’s our number one priority: making sure they’re healthy and finding them a good home.”