Sask. animal shelters filled to capacity with abandoned and stray pets

Shelter workers say animal rescues across Saskatchewan are full. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC - image credit)
Shelter workers say animal rescues across Saskatchewan are full. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC - image credit)

Animal shelters across Saskatchewan are filled to capacity with abandoned dogs and cats, with some facilities so full they can't accept any more animals into their care.

"We are at capacity and normally at this point we would be looking to transfer, but it's really hard to find a rescue that we can transfer to," said Desiree Lalonde, a volunteer and board member with the Meadow Lake Humane Society.

"The dogs are stuck with us and we don't have space."

Lalonde said all of their cat cages are full, except for one reserved for quarantining animals.

"We have absolutely no kennel space for dogs as well," Lalonde told The Morning Edition host Stefani Langenegger.

Listen to The Morning Edition's interview with two Saskatchewan animal shelters: 

The situation is a stark contrast to the past three pandemic years, when the demand for pets was high as people sought companionship while working from home.

"We had moments where the shelter was completely empty for dogs. We had high numbers of adoptions ourselves. But what also really helped is rescues in larger centres with the higher adoption pool were looking for animals to bring there," Lalonde said.

But as people returned to the office, demand for pets has dropped off and many animals adopted during the pandemic are being surrendered, Lalonde said.

Meadow Lake's situation isn't unique.

Moose Jaw Humane Society executive director Dana Haukaas said that shelter is also at capacity.

This is our highest capacity in three years for dogs - Dana Haukaas

Haukaas said they've had to freeze intakes of any new strays in Moose Jaw.

"During COVID we literally couldn't keep a dog in the house, everyone wanted to have a companion home with them, and we have seen a dramatic drop in the number of people looking to adopt, especially an adult dog," Haukaas told The Morning Edition.

"So this is our highest capacity in three years for dogs."

This week the story of 11 dogs abandoned in a Regina basement highlighted the lack of shelter space for animals.

CC RezQs workers in Regina rescued the pups from a basement room where they had access to water but no food.

Those puppies were placed with foster families, but shelter space in Regina is tight.

The Regina Cat Rescue has had an intake freeze for several months.

Both Haukaas and Lalonde said pet owners need to take more responsibility for animals when bringing them into their homes.

"The best way to control it is if you get a pet, be sure that you have the financial means to have them spayed and neutered," Haukaas said.

Lalonde said people must also make a commitment to their pet for its life, not just while it's convenient.

"Do not abandon them when you move away. Do not abandon them if something in your life happens that makes it a bit more difficult. Stick with the animal. You made a commitment and a responsibility to them."