Hundreds of people are returning their pets in Mississauga

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Published July 12, 2022 at 9:31 am

Anthony Urciuoli/hamilton.insauga.com photo
(Photo: Julissa Helmuth/Pexels0

This week is National Adoption Week and hundreds of pets found themselves without a home in recent months in Mississauga as life begins to return to normal.

The City of Mississauga says pet surrenders have “dramatically increased in the last few months.”

The city’s Animal Services saw a sharp drop in dog and cat surrenders and strays in 2020. From Jan. 1 to June 30 of 2019, 552 dogs and cats came to the shelter. But in the same time period in 2020 that number was down to 384. It went up in 2021 to 490 pet surrenders or strays found. And now in 2022, the number is back up to pre-pandemic levels at 523.

“Though the number of cats and dogs impounded at the shelter has increased year-over-year (combination of surrenders and strays), they appear to have simply recovered to pre-pandemic intake levels,” an Animal Services spokesperson said in an email to insauga.

But the number does not account for the “dramatic increase in the number of rabbits being surrendered to animal services.”

In April, the city put out a plea for people to think carefully before adopting a rabbit.

“During the course of the pandemic, there has been an uptick in rabbits being abandoned outside or dropped off at the Mississauga Animal Services shelter,” read a press release. “The City has never seen this many rabbits at the shelters before.”

Unfortunately, domestic rabbits cannot survive the winter so setting them free is a death sentence.

The highest number of surrenders continues to be rabbits, but dogs are next most common, then cats.

Animal Services says there are various reasons people give for surrendering their pet. The most common is allergies, change or loss of home due to the pandemic, separation anxiety or behaviours now present since the owners return to work, and realization of how much work the pet is once they are returning to work.

A similar story is happening with the Mississauga Humane Society. They are seeing about a 50 per cent increase in calls to surrender compared to pre-COVID time, says Albert Russell, a spokesperson for the Mississauga Humane Society.

“We’ve seen an uptick for sure,” Russell says.

Russell says they are getting about three or four calls a day from people looking to surrender their pets. People are giving different reasons.

“Some of them are surrendering because now they’re going back to work at the office and so they’re not home,” Russell says. “So they got an animal for the purpose of having a companion animal, while they were stuck in the house for months.”

He says the pets are not returns — they have been adopted through another agency. The Humane Society has a strict screening process with nearly 100 per cent success. The process makes sure dogs or cats go to an appropriate home. They also offer a two-week trial foster to adopt with every animal to ensure the pet is the right fit for the home.

While some people are surrendering because they are no longer working from home, others are struggling with rising costs.

“We took two cats three days ago from a man who had lost his job, lost his home,” says Russell. “So now he’s homeless.”

He has a place in a homeless shelter but the cats cannot go with him.

The Mississauga Humane Society took in his cats but they are at capacity.

They don’t have a shelter and rely on foster homes. Currently, they have about 50 homes caring for approximately 60 animals. So they are at capacity and are looking for new foster homes and people to adopt.

Visit the Mississauga Humane Society website for more information on how to adopt or foster a pet.

Mississauga Animal Services also has a list of pets for adoption.

And PetSmart is hosting its National Adoption Week from July 11 to 17.

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