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Unwanted pets flood Victoria animal welfare group as society returns somewhat to normal

Surrendered dogs also requiring more socialization training than usual before being adopted out
Some of the dogs Leanna Richardson has been fostering for the Victoria Humane Society. The society and its volunteers have been hit with a surge of surrendered pets, many of which require socialization, forcing them to start turning animals away. (Photo courtesy of Leanna Richardson)

The Victoria Humane Society is having to turn away unwanted animals due to a surge in pet surrenders.

Executive director Penny Stone said the organization has even had to stop adding animals to their wait list, with more than 400 animals currently in their care.

“It’s been nuts,” she said. “We are kind of the last stop for people who can’t find another place for their pets.”

Stone said the surge, which started around a month ago, has also included a larger number of dogs requiring extra training before they can be put up for adoption. This means the society is having to keep animals in foster homes for longer than usual.

For the fosters who care for surrendered animals, more animals requiring more training means far more volunteer hours need to be worked.

As one of the more experienced fosters and one with a large rural property, Leanna Richardson is tasked with caring for dogs requiring the most training. She spends much of her day taking the five dogs under her care at any give time on car rides and into busy urban areas, to gently expose them to things they should have learned as a puppy.

“We’ve never seen this many under-socialized dogs come in at once,” Richardson said.

READ MORE: Victoria Humane Society’s new rescue vehicle allows for thousand more animals to be helped

The pandemic appears to be at the heart of the issue, with many families adopting or buying pets in the early days of lockdowns and working from home. With everyday life slowly returning to normal, Stone said some pet owners are realizing pets no longer fit their lifestyle and they are looking to re-home them.

While some increase in surrenders was expected, Stone said they were caught off guard by the increase in long-term pets being surrendered as well.

“People are not able to cope any more because their mental health just isn’t the same,” she said. “You would think the animals would help, but they seem to be another stressor in some cases.”

With the society’s mobile community spay and neutering program placed on hold during the pandemic, Stone said the society is simultaneously dealing with significant setbacks to its population control efforts.

“Two years of animals not being spayed and neutered and left to roam, it feels like we have gone back 10 years,” said Stone. “Now we are starting over again with massive amounts of animals in communities and now we have to get them out.”

In order to deal with a surge Stone feels won’t be ending anytime soon, the society is working on getting a larger facility to serve as a staging area for animals waiting for a foster spot to open up. She said anyone considering adding a pet to their family should seriously consider the long-term commitment of pet ownership.

To learn more about the society, to make a donation or find out about adopting a new pet, visit or call them at 778-265-0788.

READ MORE: Victoria Humane Society in desperate need of foster homes


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Justin Samanski-Langille

About the Author: Justin Samanski-Langille

I moved coast-to-coast to discover and share the stories of the West Shore, joining Black Press in 2021 after four years as a reporter in New Brunswick.
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