It’s been a rough go for the Alliston and District Humane Society (ADHS) over the past year and a half, and there hasn’t been much relief for the volunteer-run organization this summer.

Shelter vice-president Jane Clarke said there are many pressures facing the ADHS, many of which are pandemic-related.

The shelter has seen an increase in surrenders of senior cats and dogs. She said this usually occurs when the owner dies, or is placed into a nursing home, leaving the pets with nobody to care for them.

Senior animals usually have health issues that must be addressed before they are adopted.

“This is putting quite a financial strain on the shelter,” she said.

In general, she said, more animals have been surrendered to the shelter as of late.

She said people claim they can no longer care for the animals due to allergies, because they are moving or due to financial stress, but there’s no way to know whether these reasons are true.

With people spending less time at home now, it remains to be seen what will happen over the coming months.

“I don’t think we will really know, until kids go back to school and summer is over, how much of this is attributable to the post-pandemic conditions and whether these numbers will increase,” she said.

She said the number of surrender requests for domestic rabbits is way up, as are calls about abandoned rabbits.

The shelter recently received a call to assist another shelter after six baby bunnies were left on the side of the road.

She said there are currently 40 rabbits at the shelter, with 10 more on a wait-list to come in. Because the shelter is at capacity, they’ve had to turn down other requests to take in other small pets like rats, guinea pigs, hamsters and birds.

“Our wonderful foster families are helping us deal with the increased numbers in all animal areas,” she said.

Clarke noted that adoption rates have dropped, which usually happens during the summer when people are travelling.

Ensuring there are enough volunteers to keep things running smoothly is another challenge, with Clarke noting that many take time off in the summer to recharge their batteries.

Finding veterinarians with enough time to care for the animals has not been easy either.

She said many are fully booked, leaving the shelter no choice but to take the animals to emergency clinics in Barrie, which are more expensive.

Dr. Louis Kwantes, president of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), said the pandemic has affected the profession. He said clinics can’t work as efficiently as they used to due to all of the health precautions that have been implemented.

Many people also adopted animals during the lockdowns, which could have resulted in even higher demand for vet services.

He said the country, and even North America, was dealing with a veterinary workforce shortage before the pandemic.

He said a survey conducted last year by the CVMA found there is a growing gap between the need for services and the availability to provide them.

“It’s quite distressing when we are there to help animals, and the need is greater than what we can do for them,” he said.

He said the ways to address this include increasing the number of seats in veterinary college and technician programs, and encouraging more veterinarians from other countries to work in Canada.

The pandemic has made it difficult for charities to fundraise, and the shelter is no different.

Clarke said people can help by donating their empty beer and liquor bottles at the shelter, or visiting the website to make a financial donation, buy a membership or sponsor a cage.

She also encourages residents who may be thinking of becoming a pet owner to take a look at the animals they have for adoption before looking elsewhere.

For more details, visit .


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Simcoe.com wanted to look into the pandemic’s impact on the humane society.