The Victoria Humane Society must refuse unwanted animals due to an increase in the number of animal surrenders.
Executive director Penny Stone said the organization had even had to stop adding animals to its waiting list, with more than 400 animals currently in its care.
“It’s been crazy,” she said. “We’re kind of the last stop for people who can’t find another place for their pets. “
Stone said the wave, which started about a month ago, has also included more dogs requiring additional training before they can be put up for adoption. This means that the company must keep the animals in foster homes longer than usual.
For foster families who care for abandoned animals, more animals requiring more training means many more volunteer hours to work.
As one of the more experienced foster families and owning a large rural property, Leanna Richardson is responsible for caring for the dogs in need of the most training. She spends much of her day taking the five dogs in her care at all times on car rides and through busy urban areas, gently exposing them to things they should have learned as a puppy.
“We’ve never seen so many under-socialized dogs come in at the same time,” said Richardson.
The pandemic appears to be at the heart of the problem, with many families adopting or purchasing pets at the start of closures and working from home. As daily life slowly returns to normal, Stone said some pet owners are realizing that pets no longer fit their lifestyle and are looking to relocate them.
While some increase in surrenders was expected, Stone said they were also caught off guard by the increase in the number of long-term pets returned.
“People are not able to cope anymore because their mental health is just not the same,” she said. “You would think animals would help, but they seem to be another stressor in some cases. “
With the company’s mobile community sterilization and sterilization program suspended during the pandemic, Stone said the company simultaneously faces significant setbacks in its population control efforts.
“Two years without the animals being sterilized and set free, it feels like we’ve gone back 10 years,” Stone said. “Now we are starting over with massive amounts of animals in the communities and now we have to get them out.”
In order to deal with a wave that Stone believes will not end anytime soon, the company is working on securing a larger facility to serve as a staging area for animals awaiting a foster home for open up. She said anyone considering adding a pet to their family should seriously consider the long-term commitment to owning a pet.
To learn more about the company, make a donation, or inquire about adopting a new pet, visit victoriahumansociety.com or call them at 778-265-0788.