“The Reward Is Worth It”: For Some Pet Adoption Centers, 2020 Was A Record Year

TORONTO – Although the COVID-19 pandemic has strained many people and businesses across the country, it has been quite beneficial for pets looking for new homes.

As the pandemic began in early spring, adoption centers across the country reported an increase in new adoptions and fostering of pets, as people suddenly working from home had more time to care for an animal in need.

Natalia Hanson, marketing and communications coordinator for Humane Canada, which represents humanitarian companies across Canada, said the surge in adoptions and pet homes wasn’t just exclusive to the spring months.

“Throughout the year, this trend has continued to the point that many of our shelters across the country have low capacity right now,” she told CTVNews.ca during a telephone interview.

Hanson said the Prince Edward Island Humane Society, for example, had no dogs available for adoption at the end of November.

“There are some in the reception system that will be available soon, but it is clear that the shelters are emptied, which is a good thing,” she said. “We don’t want animals at the shelter.

She said the PEI SPCA was able to relocate 102 dogs in 2019, but has already relocated 118 dogs this year, with more than a month to go.

In Canada’s largest city, Hanson said the Toronto Humane Society was reporting a lower number of adoptions this year, but also said its capacity was below normal.

For Amanda Panacci of Toronto, adopting a dog had been her goal for about a year, but the pandemic was the perfect opportunity to take the plunge and bring home her puppy Charlie in late October.

“I knew I would be working from home for the indefinite future, at least until early spring 2021, so it just worked that I had him now because I could be home and take care of him at the stage of. puppy, ”she said. .

Panacci added that having a puppy helped her get some fresh air.

One of the best perks was that there were days I wouldn’t even leave the house or start my day, exercise at home, work up to six or seven nights. and I wasn’t going out because I had no reason. to, ”she said. “Now it’s easier to go out and do it when you have a dog that really needs to go out. “

In March, Rory O’Neill, a canine behaviorist with Rocky Mountain Animal Rescue in Calgary, told CTVNews.ca that the increase in the number of foster requests during the pandemic has left the organization with no more dogs to welcome.

Now O’Neill has said that while they have dogs to foster or adopt, they have been “extraordinarily busy” this year. She doesn’t think the pandemic played a big role in the increase, however.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily COVID, even though there has been a spike in foster care,” she said. “I think more and more people are moving away from puppy mills, pet stores… and breeders.”

In Fredericton, New Brunswick, The Purrfect Cup, a cafe and lounge with adoptable cats, has seen so many feline adoptions that he can’t keep up.

“Once we reopened, our cats went so fast,” Brenna Gauthier, deputy director of the Purrfect Cup, told CTV News Atlantic in early November. “It was amazing, honestly.”

Due to the pandemic, many shelters have had to change their operations when it comes to pairing a pet with a potential adopter. This means that shelters have adopted many of the strategies seen in the workplace: video conferencing, virtual meetings, phone calls and emails.

“This is of course not the same experience, because when we are not in the era of the pandemic, people could walk into a shelter and have a real face to face encounter with the animal, but given the while we’re in it, they have to completely pivot their operations and get more creative, ”said Hanson.


A spike in adoptions doesn’t come without its array of concerns, Hanson said.

Humanitarian societies and SPCAs fear that people who adopted pets during the pandemic may find that they will no longer be able to care for them when life returns to its normal course.

Meanwhile, O’Neill isn’t worried about a drop in demand among those looking to welcome a pet in the future, in part because these foster families are now seeing how much of a business it can be. easy and rewarding.

Once people start fostering they realize it’s a great way to help animals, ”she said. “They realize it’s not a lot of their time, it’s not a lot of effort, and it’s more rewarding than anything. The payoff is well worth it.

Hanson said there are also concerns that the limited availability of adoptable pets could drive those desperate for a mate to puppy mills.

“We know that there is a certain decrease in the number of adoptable dogs and that unfortunately increases some people who are motivated by profit and who only breed dogs for profit,” said Hanson. “We need to do our due diligence to make sure that we don’t inadvertently support a puppy mill operation because if demand doesn’t go down, supply will never go down. “

This increased demand has also led to an increase in scams involving puppies. In September, the Better Business Bureau said Canadians lost about $ 300,000 to people posing as ranchers, about double the amount compared to 2019 as a whole.

Aid companies and SPCAs also fear that, given the changing economy, those who have been recently made redundant or who are struggling to re-enter the workforce will be forced to give up their pets because of they can no longer afford them. To help curb this, Humane Canada is working on Canada’s first national pet food bank, which is expected to begin operations in the coming months.

As part of the program, Humane Canada offers grants to shelters if they wish to set up a pet food bank in their area.

“We certainly see a shift in the future of humanitarian societies and SPCAs to be more of a service or community-based organization rather than sheltering animals,” said Hanson.

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