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COLUMN: 'Ugly trend' emerging as people surrender pandemic pets

In this week's Everything King, Wendy discusses the troubling trend of pandemic pet surrender
2021-05-17 sad dofg
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When the COVID-19 lockdowns began, which seems like so long ago, there were a couple of positives.

One of them was the awesome news stories that, for the first time, shelters were emptied of dogs and cats needing homes.

I remember pictures of completely unoccupied cages. What a fantastic sight that was!

People were home more so had time to train a new pet.

There was more time to walk them, play with them and just be quiet with them in a new home.

Let’s be honest, we were all lonely and needed companionship. 

What better than a furry, four-legged critter?

And 2020 was even called by some as the Year of the Dog, because so many got so much affection and attention.

In Toronto, a rescue group known as Redemption Paws saw 600 dogs adopted or fostered last year.

Executive director Nicole Simone is quoted as saying, “We were being treated like Amazon for pets."

Not only were pet adoptions up, but businesses that cater to pet care were making money paw over fist, too.

Breeders, pet food, veterinarians, pet toys, litter... well, you get the idea.

All of that sounded great.

Until now, with a new ugly trend emerging.

As restrictions ease and people head back to their actual offices and jobs, the so-called pandemic pets are being returned to the shelter.

According to numerous articles, animals are in dire need of forever homes, because now people don’t need or want them anymore.

According to statistics from the United States, surrenders are up 80 per cent from the same time last year.

The Ontario Humane Society has been concerned for a long time that animals will come flooding back to them when people return to work and pets start to suffer from separation anxiety.

That shows up in lots of ways, such as destruction of furniture and, in the extreme, with biting.

All these changes can't be easy on animals, either.

Adoptions may have been done spur of the moment without properly thinking through how expensive and time-consuming pets can be.

I can’t imagine anything more heartbreaking than a pet being left back at the shelter as the people they knew as family drive away.  I can’t get that vision out of my head.

Heck, I can’t even watch those commercials of suffering animals set to mournful music. 

Before I watch any movie, I have to make sure no animals die. People I can handle, but not animals!

Surrender is obviously better than abandonment, but still. How distressing.

How are pet rescue agencies going to have the space or money to handle the influx?

There is some encouraging news.

More and more employers are starting to offer pet-friendly offices.

If the animal is trained and vaccinated, they are welcome in certain workplaces.

Personally, I love it when I go to a store or business and they have a resident pet mascot. I know, for sure, it puts me in a better mood and makes me spend more time and more money.

I hope if you are a person who adopted during the pandemic you can find a way to keep your pet.

I adopted my cat, Amos, just before the first lockdown. I know for sure he saved my sanity.

After all they do for you, don’t give up on them.

During a dark, scary time, they rescued you.

Never forget that!

Their love is unconditional and unwavering.

Is yours?

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About the Author: Wendy King

Wendy King writes about all kinds of things from nutrition to the job search from cats to clowns — anything and everything — from the ridiculous to the sublime. Watch for Wendy's column weekly.
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