The number of pet abandonments has risen sharply since the start of the year, compared to the same period in 2022, according to the Montreal SPCA. The organization, which suspects the economic context and, a fortiori, real estate, of causing such a situation, fears a wave of abandonments in view of the critical period of the moves.
By comparing the number of animals placed under its wing during the first four months of 2023 with that recorded on the same portion of the calendar in 2022, the Montreal SPCA announced on Tuesday that it had noted a worrying 21% increase in abandonments. Phone calls have also spiked, with receptionists at the shelter receiving an average of 187 calls per day between April and June, and up to 255 calls in recent weeks.
“We have nearly 230 more pets that have been abandoned than last year. It’s huge,” laments Laurence Massé, assistant general manager of the Montreal SPCA. “We expected a surge of dropouts last year when the pandemic ended, but we never expected a bigger spike this year,” she says, noting that the organization currently houses around a hundred cats in shelters, around thirty dogs and as many small animals (such as rodents), and has more than 450 animals placed in foster families.
Small cats are particularly affected by the increase, but also, to a lesser extent, the profiles of so-called “pandemic” dogs, adopted as puppies during confinement, and thus potentially poorly socialized or suffering from separation anxiety.
The organization suspects the economic situation and the rising cost of living as aggravating factors, as well as the state of the current Quebec real estate sector (evictions, explosion of rents, etc.). “One of the biggest reasons for abandonment is access to affordable, pet-friendly housing. Yes, there is an upsurge in abandonments around July 1st, but we receive abandoned animals every day for reasons of moving”, specifies the deputy general manager.
Unanticipated medical costs are also part of the equation. “In an economic environment of inflation, pet owners have a very difficult time predicting them. It is not uncommon for them to abandon their animal because they can no longer afford to pay for these unforeseen events,” she continues. It is therefore not necessarily with joy of heart that the owners of cats or dogs end up separating from their companion and entrusting it to shelters, which witness heartbreaking situations on a daily basis.
It is no secret that the moving season generates a wave of abandonments every year. In view of the increase in the latter during the first half of 2023, the Montreal SPCA fears a tsunami from July 1st.
However, each care entails an average cost of $1,000, from admission to adoption. The management of the shelter is looking to the public to help them absorb the logistical and financial management of the imminent summer influx, through well-managed adoptions and donations. Also noting an increase in stray animals since the beginning of the year, the organization also encourages households forced to part with their companion to do so with a shelter. “Here, there is no judgment. This makes it possible to retrieve the animal’s history and promote its adoption,” insists Laurence Massé.