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More unwanted animals, fewer adoptions made for a tough year at Red Deer’s Humane Society

Little turn-around means some pets have been at the facility for a year
Finn, a young and friendly mixed-breed dog, has been at the Central Alberta Humane Society shelter since September and is still looking for an adult-only home with no other pets. Shelter staff say adoptions were down in 2022 while more people were seeking to surrender their animals. (Contributed photo)

With fewer pet adoptions and more surrenders, it was a challenging year for the Red Deer Humane Society.

2022 started out with a waiting list for people wanting to turn their dogs or cats over to the society and ended with even longer waits.

“We are always at capacity,” said Kelly Richard, the society’s fund development co-ordinator, with about 80 cats and 30 dogs at the shelter — as well as the odd rabbit, ferret or bird — “we’re still getting calls all the time.”

Adoptions have decreased by about 30 per cent over the past year and a half, yet the number of animals that are homeless, unwanted or abused have increased, said Richard.

She noted the average shelter stay has almost tripled, with some animals there for over a year.

“If we cannot adopt animals out, we do not have the room to take more in,” she added.

The problem can partly be blamed on inflation causing affordability problems. But the real culprit is people not spaying or neutering their pets, said Richard. “There are so many animals out there and they are making babies.”

A pregnant mother dog recently brought to the shelter had nine puppies. Two of the pups found homes at a Parkland Mall event hosted by the society in partnership with Chatters, but others are still waiting for a home at the shelter, said Richard.

Puppies used to be adopted almost as soon as they were available, but now are sometimes spending 30 days at the facility.

Meanwhile, the Central Alberta Humane Society is not government funded and must rely on donations and fundraising efforts to offset $1.4-million in operating costs.

At this time, when all non-profits are struggling, “charities like ours struggle even more,” said Richard.

The local Humane Society had to cancel its fall gala due to low ticket sales, and later only raised about half of the targeted amount through prize raffles. Richard hopes to raise donations to help cover operating costs at the shelter through a Giving Tree fundraising campaign that’s on this month.

Richard noted the society also receives $7 from every dog license that’s renewed or purchased at the shelter, so this is another way to contribute.

Since being at a holding facility for a long time can take a toll on an animal’s mental health, Richard said, “We are also always looking for volunteers to spend quality time with our shelter animals, help us clean and take care of the shelter, foster our animals to give them a break from the shelter and more socialization, and help us with fundraising events.”

The Humane Society is allowing pet adoptions over Christmas, but not pet gifting. A cat or dog can be adopted into a family — as long as family members pass a screening and other pre-existing animals in the home are accepting of a new pet. However, no pet can be given as a present to somebody else, said Richard.

In 2023, the society will be looking to form more partnerships with Central Alberta businesses for third-party fundraising other initiatives, she added.

It will also continue to offer many community programs like PD Day camps, kids birthday parties, and summer camps.

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