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Pandemic pet boom hits bust as B.C. shelters see influx of animals

A hot trend during COVID-19 – pandemic pet breeding – seems to be crashing, with animal rescue organizations having to step in.

On Tuesday, the BC SPCA said 21 healthy golden retrievers, including 17 puppies, will soon be up for adoption after a breeder near Quesnel responsibly surrendered them.

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The intake, said the SPCA, is the latest in an influx of dogs during the past few months following attempts by individuals to breed animals during the global pandemic.

“The BC SPCA is dealing with a record number of large-scale intakes of dogs and puppies, as individuals who set up breeding operations during COVID are closing down their operations,” said SPCA spokesperson Eileen Drever.

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“People were very keen to get pets during the isolation of COVID and we saw an increase in the number of people breeding animals during that time.”

“Now that people are back to work and to their regular routines, the market has dropped off and we are getting calls for help from breeders who are overwhelmed with the number of animals in their care, ” Drever said.

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The SPCA said, in this case, the breeder did the right thing in surrendering the dogs.

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Rescuing pups left out in the bitter cold

“We always want people to contact us if they need help, but the surge in large-scale intakes is definitely putting a strain on our resources,” said Drever.

“This places pressure not only on the staff and resources in our facilities, but on our network of foster families, who help us care for these animals.”

The SPCA isn’t the only organization that’s seeing an intake of animals.

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“We’re finding that people who decided it would be fun to have a single litter of animals, whether it be puppies or kittens, and then sell them to their friends or find a new home for them, they’re finding it to be difficult to be a profitable enterprise,” said Romany Runnells, volunteer president of the Okanagan Humane Society.

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“They’re competing against charities and rescue organizations that already provide animals for adoption that are already fixed, vaccinated, vet-checked and dewormed.”

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Runnells said in order for new breeders “to raise animals that are ready to be sold during this inflationary time, it’s almost impossible. It’s too expensive to breed a litter of animals and keep them that long.”

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As a result, Runnells said, these single-time breeders are reaching out to get their animals fixed and to find homes for them, “in which case we are helping with that.”

In lending assistance, the OHS noted that it needs the public’s help to fund its low- or free-cost neuters or spays to animal owners who qualify.

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“We know that there are so many dogs out there who need to come in. Our goal is to find space for these animals as quickly as possible so that we can bring them into our care and get them on the path to their new life,” said Drever.

“We really need the public’s help to make this happen.”

Meanwhile, the SPCA says the golden retrievers have been moved to various branches in B.C., and are waiting for medical clearance before being placed for adoption.

Visit the SPCA’s website for updates and how to donate.

Visit the Okanagan Humane Society’s website for its adoptable animals.

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