Fort McMurray SPCA is seeing a rise in animals dropped off at their shelter after the pandemic began a surge in pet adoptions across the region.
In 2020, cat adoptions rose 23 percent at the SPCA, with dog adoptions increasing by seven percent during the same period. Kennel manager Chris Bowers said 2021 is on pace to eclipse those adoption numbers, but the rising number of animal intakes is a concerning trend.
“The one thing that people forget when adopting a puppy or kitten is that a lot of work goes into it,” said Bowers. “Pet ownership is such a rewarding experience, but there is real follow through needed when it comes to the animal’s training and welfare.”
The rise in adoptions has still brought joy to many people in Fort McMurray. Additional downtime during COVID-19 gave Olivia Rockwell the opportunity to consider adopting a new pet. A shortage of available adoptions in Fort McMurray at the start of the pandemic meant Rockwell broadened her search. Ultimately, it meant a trip to Moose Jaw, Sask., to find her match in Guess.
“I was having such a hard time finding a dog and he just popped up one day with his litter on Running Wild Rescue’s Facebook page,” said Rockwell. “He’s been unreal and super easy to train. It’s just nice having his companionship around during this time.”
For Amanda McCann and her family, the pandemic created an opportunity to foster a litter of puppies from the SPCA. Already with two dogs, Winnie and Buttercup, McCann couldn’t resist adopting Oscar from the litter.
“My partner and I were both off work, so [the adoption] wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for COVID,” said McCann. “We have three kids and they weren’t in school at the time. It was a great experience and something we could do as a family.”
The SPCA has six dogs and 16 cats listed online for adoption. While unpreparedness for the responsibilities of ownership is one of the reasons for the increase in intake, Bowers said unplanned litters can also be the result of new owners not spaying or neutering pets.
“One of the additional things to consider if you are making a decision to get a pet during the pandemic is making sure you spay and neuter your pet,” said Bowers. “If a dog is not fixed a male can go out and produce multiple litters on its own, while a female can have three, four, or five litters easily in a lifetime. As a pet owner you have to be ready for this responsibility.”
Scott McLean, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today