Edmonton’s municipal dog shelter has reached capacity, leading it to announce Tuesday it is temporarily pausing intake of healthy canines because of ongoing increases in animal drop-offs.
John Wilson, director of the City of Edmonton’s animal care and control centre, said Tuesday the intake changes come due to increased numbers of canines being dropped off at the shelter, located in the city’s northwest, and with other animal-control facilities around the province struggling with capacity issues as well.
Now, the city’s animal shelter – which has a capacity of 47 dogs – will prioritize only dogs that are injured or in significant distress. Its typical care/hold time for lost or stray animals is three to 10 days.
That has now turned into four to six weeks because of the stress on the system, said Wilson.
“Right now, we’re making every possible effort to find solutions and to alleviate pressure on our facility,” he said during a media availability outside the city facility at 163 Street and 135 Avenue, next door to the Edmonton Humane Society. “That includes engaging with our partners, and even local, privately owned boarding kennels and facilities to secure additional space.”
The humane society is continuing to accept dogs, but that could change when new numbers are released in the fall.
“It’s hard to predict right now because we’re kind of coming out of COVID,” said Liza Sunley, the Edmonton Humane Society’s chief executive officer. “We’ve got these new realities and it’s hard to predict what the new normal really is.”
Wilson said the option to euthanize of animals “is always a last resort,” but the facility is not pursuing it now.
He said it’s the first time in 30 years the city facility has seen this type of demand for dogs.
“We have never seen the number or the duration of stay for dogs that we have been experiencing recently,” Wilson said.
One of the reasons why the shelter has seen a rise in the number of dogs being surrendered and abandoned is the “long-term effects” of what Wilson calls “the pandemic pets phenomenon.”
“Many people during COVID went out and secured animals as pets for their families, but not everybody did the right amount of research to understand the care those animals needed (and) the cost of ownership,” Wilson said. “Since then, we’ve seen people return to work, we’ve seen post-pandemic lifestyles change, and we’ve seen people realize, (amid) the rising cost of inflation, that animals are expensive to care for.”
Wilson said dog owners finding themselves facing the need to give up their animal should explore resources available to them by consulting with the city’s responsible pet ownership page online at edmonton.ca or by calling 3-1-1.
Sunley said the humane society has programs to assist pet owners, including subsidized spay and neuter programs, an emergency vet fund and a pet food bank.
“We’re really aiming to work with people who are struggling,” she said.
In spite of the recent rise in the number of dogs being surrendered, the humane society is coming off one of its best months of the year for adoption numbers: In July, it helped 344 animals find new homes.
People who find lost or abandoned dogs can also help by
checking for a city licence tag. If the dog has one, call 3-1-1 for more direction.
posting the animal to the city’s online lost-and-found pets page.
walking the animal around the neighbourhood to see if they can locate the owner.
considering taking the dog to a vet to check for a microchip.
posting it online on Facebook and Kijiji.
posting it on community Facebook pages.
reach out to other dog owners in their neighbourhood to see if they know the animal and its owner.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Marek Tkach