Edmonton’s Animal Care and Control Centre is temporarily pausing the intake of healthy dogs because of a lack of available kennel space.
The move is necessary because of “an ongoing increase in animal drop-offs at the centre and at shelters and rescues across the province,” the City of Edmonton said in a news release Tuesday.
Until more space is available for healthy dogs, priority will be given to dogs that are injured or in significant distress, showing symptoms such as “bleeding, trouble breathing, obvious fractures, unconsciousness, inability to move and seizing,” the city said.
At a news conference, John Wilson, the city’s director of animal control and park rangers, said the Animal Care and Control facility has never been under so much stress.
“In the last 30 years of operation, we have never seen the number or the duration of stay for dogs that we have been experiencing recently,” Wilson said.
“Overcrowding and capacity issues can complicate or compromise our ability to care for dogs, and it also increases the possibility of disease transfer and stress on the animals that are in our care.”
Wilson said Animal Care and Control typically cares for animals for between three and 10 days before they are reunited with their owners or moved to other shelters.
“Unfortunately, given the stress on the system right now, that three-to-10 [day] hold period has turned into four to six weeks,” he said.
“And that’s a huge challenge from an animal welfare perspective. It puts a lot of stress on the system and our staff and of course on the animals when they are in care for that long.”
He said the centre is not euthanizing healthy dogs for space reasons, adding that is “always our last resort.” Instead, the city is working with partners to find shelter space, including new rescue organizations.
‘Pandemic pets phenomenon’
Several factors are at play in the increase in the numbers of people abandoning or surrendering their pets, he said.
“We’re still dealing with the long-term effects of 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, the cost of ownership.
“And then, of course, since then we’ve seen people return to work, we’ve seen post-pandemic lifestyles change. And we’ve seen people realize with the rising cost of inflation, that animals are expensive to care for.”
Anyone who finds a lost dog should try to reunite the animal with its owner, the city said.
Wilson said the centre is now taking in dogs by appointment. People are asked to get on a waiting list. Staff will call the person back when there is capacity to take in the dog, he said.
People who find lost dogs can take these steps, the city said:
- Post the animal to the City of Edmonton’s Lost & Found Pet website.
- Look for a City of Edmonton tag and call 311 for contact information for the owner.
- Bring the animal into a veterinary clinic to check for a microchip.
- Post a picture of the dog on Edmonton Lost Pets, Edmonton & Area Lost Pets, and Edmonton Lost & Found Pets and other community Facebook pages.
- Walk the animal around the neighbourhood and talk to residents.
- Use online platforms like Facebook and Kijiji to find the owner.
- Hold the dog until an appointment can be made. For questions or information on supports please call 311 or visit the city’s Responsible Pet Ownership web page.
The Animal Care and Control Centre cares for 6,000 to 7,000 animals each year.