The Calgary Humane Society has announced that they are experiencing record breaking animal surrenders, seizures, and homelessness since the downfall of the economy in Alberta last year. Over 1,600 animals have been surrendered so far in 2016, and more are expected to come. The shelters are filling up quickly, and the people of Calgary can barely afford to feed themselves, let alone adopt animals.
With the shelters breaching capacity, and more homeless animals on the way, the Calgary Humane Society is hoping for a boost in adoptions of dogs, cats, and exotics.
In 2015, the people of Alberta suffered an economic crisis. Many lost their jobs, their homes, and as a result, now they are losing their pets. The Calgary Humane Society is experiencing a spike in “reluctant” owner surrenders – pet owners who have no other choice but to re-home their animal.
Sage Pullen McIntosh, Senior Manager of Community Relations and Communications, understands how “gut-wrenching” and difficult it is to surrender a pet, as many of these animals are considered family members.
“It’s the last thing they want to do. Typically they will go without a lot of things … without food … maybe they’ll skip rent for a month if they have to,” McIntosh said.
The number of pets surrendered to the SPCA between January 1st and August 31st, 2016 has risen to 1,635 animals, which is much higher than the 1,500 received in 2014.
They really want to keep their animals but they’ve lost everything. They have drawn on all the savings they have, or every family member they have, and they just don’t have anywhere else to go.
Unfortunately, the animals being surrendered to the Humane Society are the “lucky ones”. McIntosh believes that the recent increase in stray and abandoned animals has more to do with emotions than anything.
Surrendering an animal is not easy, especially for those who love their pets. Many people feel embarrassed or guilty when they have to make this tough decision, and would rather “set their pet free.”
“They feel embarrassed … they feel ashamed,” said McIntosh.
McIntosh noted that saying goodbye to a pet can be heartbreaking, and many people aren’t able to surrender their animals due to their emotions.
It’s really tough for people. This is a member of their family.
As well as a homeless animal epidemic, the people of Calgary are also facing a crisis regarding animal seizures.
The Calgary Humane Society seized more than seven times the average amount of animals in 2015, tripling the amount from the year before. In 2015 alone, 2,496 animals were seized by the Calgary Humane Society, causing a serious issue with over-crowding in shelters.
One of the seizures involved more than 1,000 mice found in a residential home. Another seizure of over 300 exotic animals resulted in the shutting down of a local pet store, after complaints were received from the public of animals living in “cramped, dirty conditions.”
Senior Manager of Animal Cruelty Investigation, Brad Nichols believes that the current state of animal care in Calgary is directly related to the economy in Alberta – you can watch more in his interview with Global News.
The downturn of the economy does definitely have a link to animal care. People don’t have money, they have to feed themselves. Quite often medical care, food, [and] those sorts of things, all fall off for animals.
The Calgary Humane Society has been holding events to boost adoption numbers. However, despite rehoming over 60 animals at a time, they are still breaching capacity.
Sage Pullen McIntosh says that the shelter houses roughly 400 animals each day, and the increase in exotic surrenders is growing. Many people don’t realize that certain exotics, like snakes and reptiles, grow to be quite large, and can be costly to care for. McIntosh believes that this is the reason for the shelters large exotic animal population.
They get very, very big. They’re very expensive to care for and they’re not able to maintain that care, so they surrender them to us. They take longer to adopt so we do have a lot of exotics right now.
At the moment, the shelters main concern is cats and kittens, which are known for overpopulation issues in many areas of the country.
“It is hard. When you adopt a cat out, you will get three more that same day,” McIntosh says.
What the animals of Calgary need right now is your help!
If you are interested in adopting an animal, or making a donation to the Calgary Humane Society, please visit their website. You can also learn more about the Calgary Humane Society by following them on Facebook.
Please share and help these animals find homes! Thank you, Calgary Humane Society!