Sarge is up for adoption at the Calgary Humane Society PHOTO: SALLY JOHNSTON

After nearly two years of uncertainty, social distancing and working from home, life in Alberta is beginning to return to normal. However, this leaves some pandemic pet owners unsure of how to adapt to taking care of their furry friends while juggling the adjustment of going back to work or school outside the home. 

Michelle McAra, a board member from Wag-A-Muffins Animal Rescue, explains why there has been a spike in animals being surrendered back to rescues.

“Unfortunately, most of them have been about how I don’t have time anymore to spend with my dog that I adopted. I’m going back to work,” McAra says.

Sally Johnston with her own dog Winston Photo Credit: Sally Johnston

Because some of these people were first-time pet owners, they have never had to experience raising a pet apart from the comfort of their at-home work environment. 

“And a lot of these surrenders right now, the majority of them are dogs that were purchased as puppies from who-knows-where, so we’re not getting a ton of the rescue dogs coming back,” says McAra.

Following the outbreak of COVID-19, people were forced to adapt to increased hours of isolation. That led to a spike in pet adoptions across the world in the early months of the pandemic, according to a study published in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science.

Now, not only are pet owners struggling with adjusting to their renewed lifestyles but their pets are also experiencing extended periods of isolation for the first time, which can cause separation distress or separation anxiety. This can result in behavioural problems, leaving novice pet owners uncertain of how to deal with these issues. 

Jet is up for adoption at the Calgary Humane Society Photo credit: Sally Johnston

Sally Johnston, manager of operations at the Calgary Humane Society, explains that even if animals have some behavioural issues, the organization offers resources to help keep pets in homes. 

“We have tons of behaviour outreach support that we can help get in front of before people are struggling with the behaviour cases.”

According to a survey conducted in 2021 by Banfield Pet Hospital, nearly one in two gen-Zers and one in three millennials say they would consider looking for another job post-pandemic if their workplace was not pet-friendly. Unfortunately, this isn’t a luxury everyone can afford and  a spike in animal surrenders is the result. 

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