Dumping unwanted dogs in rural areas was thankfully not a big problem during the pandemic, says an official with Alberta Animal & Municipal Enforcement Services.
“We had more people wanting pets than there were pets available,” said Duane Thomas, director of enforcement.
But he said disposing unwanted dogs in rural areas still happens, for example an older retriever-cross renamed Rusty by his rescuers, was found on May 4 in a less populated area west of Caroline in Clearwater County.
Rusty was spotted by an angler and brought to the Alberta Animal Services in Red Deer – the agency is in charge of animal bylaw enforcement for the county.
Thomas said Rusty could have been lost, but was more likely left out there by his owner.
“Rusty was found running at large on a range road out there by a lake. This is an area where there’s the odd farmstead, but not a lot. Typically dogs are in more acreage areas.
“The gentleman that found him was nice enough to stop and pick him up and bring him in. Had it been in a more secluded area, who knows what would have happened.”
He said Rusty was not starving so he was probably out there for a only couple of days. He had a few injuries that required stitches, and needed to be shaved.
“Other than some usual age issues with the dog, he was healthy.”
Rusty was quick to heal, and put in foster care. He had no identification and his previous owner was not found. Many people wanted to adopt him, and he was taken home by a central Alberta family.
Thomas urged pet owners to do the right thing for their aging pets.
“Contact a vet. If you’re short on funds, there are resources out there by either contacting the Alberta SPCA or a rescue and see if there’s anyone willing to help out.
“If you no longer can keep the dog for some other reason, and there’s no health issues with your dog, take the time to try and find the appropriate home for him rather than dumping him.”