Cena, an eight-year-old male boxer, is up for adoption at the Central Alberta Humane Society, where he’s groomed by veterinary technician Nicole Appenrodt. (Contributed photo by Tara Hellewell

Cena, an eight-year-old male boxer, is up for adoption at the Central Alberta Humane Society, where he’s groomed by veterinary technician Nicole Appenrodt. (Contributed photo by Tara Hellewell

Staff at the Central Alberta Humane Society are ‘bracing for more pet dumpings’

Lay-offs and pandemic measures could take a toll on pets

A litter of puppies left abandoned on the doorstep of the Central Alberta Humane Society is viewed as another sign of our disturbing times.

Dumping puppies was almost unheard of before the pandemic, said the society’s executive director Tara Hellewell, who was surprised to see tiny pit bull pups left mewing outside the facility in a plastic container last week.

She noted most people previously opted to sell puppies out of their homes because they have a monetary value.

But since social distancing measures were put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19, Hellewell believes many people are too afraid to have others coming by their homes.

“With kitten season right around the corner,” Hellewell and the rest of the society’s staff are bracing themselves for more pet dumpings.

She fears what could happen if many central Albertans who have been laid off struggle to afford pet food, and can’t have their dogs or cats neutered or sprayed. (The society’s low cost neutering program has been suspended for now.)

Central Alberta Humane Society is now caring for 150 animals and is about three-quarters full.

Staff members are largely working from home, but a few come in regularly to tend to the animals and help facilitate adoptions — which are still happening steadily, despite pandemic restrictions.

Hellewell stressed no one is allowed to just drop into the humane society, which is now closed to the public.

Those interested in adopting an pet can peruse photos on the society’s website and then answer a staff member’s telephone questionnaire.

If they check out OK as prospective pet owners and are serious about proceeding with an adoption, then they are allowed to come by appointment to the facility and meet their chosen pet.

Hellewell said staff members will be wearing personal protective equipment, including masks and gloves. There’s also a shield separating the reception desk from the public.

Although some communities have reported a spike in cat or dog adoptions as people in isolation battle loneliness and want a furry friend, that does not appear to be happening here, said Hellewell.

But she thinks this is for the best as pet ownership is a long-term prospect.

While people sitting at home now might want a diversion, they should think ahead to what will happen to their pets when they have to go back to work, she said.

“Will they be able to handle a type of dog who doesn’t like to be left alone during the day, or who needs to be walked?”

As for those abandoned puppies, Hellewell said they are “very cute” and a huge hit with the staff — but are still a month away from being adoptable. Fortunately, several foster families have stepped up to care for them until then.

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