More abandoned pets in GTA parks

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More and more abandoned pets in GTA parks

At Rouge National Urban Park near Toronto, 18 abandoned animals were counted in 2022, down from half the previous year.

The number of pets left behind in GTA parks is on the rise. At Rouge National Urban Park, for example, 18 abandoned animals were recorded in 2022, down from half the number the previous year and only two recorded in 2019 and 2020.


The park's external relations manager, Allendria Brunjes, explains that it is difficult for abandoned animals to survive in the wild, as they can suffer from cold, hypothermia and hunger, among other things. And if they manage to survive, they will have to fight against wild animals for food and habitat, she continues.

Ms Brunjes adds that abandoned animals can represent a threat to wildlife if they bring parasites, viruses or bacteria.

Allendria Brunjes of Rouge National Park works with different organizations to ensure that abandoned animals receive care and find habitat.

The neglected animals that have been found in the national park in the suburbs of Toronto include dogs, cats, rabbits, domestic rats and turtles, among others.

Allendria Brunjes asks walkers who find abandoned animals not to capture them, but to contact the park authorities specifying where they were seen.

We work with organizations, in particular animal services, so that the animals receive care and find a habitat, she says.

Stu Johnson is one of the volunteers with Team Chelsea Lost Pet Search Group, a volunteer organization that searches for stray pets. He too sees more and more animals being abandoned by their owners, not only in Rouge Park, but also in York and Durham Region where people keep abandoning their animals. , he assures.

Stu Johnson (left) is a volunteer with the Chelsea Lost Pet Search Group and has rescued between 30 and 40 dogs in the past year.

He believes the abandonments are COVID-related. During the health crisis, people wanted to have pets, and now they don't want to pay vet bills, he laments.

“People are looking for the easiest way to get rid of it.

—Stu Johnson, Volunteer

We want to bring them back where they should be, in a home. It's not fair to them, so we do what we can and try to help as many [animals] as we can.

Generally says he, the animals remain in the place where they were abandoned while waiting for people to return to retrieve them. But after 48 to 72 hours the dog regains its wild instincts and it becomes more and more difficult to capture and protect it every day.

In the past year, he says he has rescued between 30 and 40 dogs that were never claimed.

Meanwhile, some shelters are struggling to find new homes for the dogs. pets. This is the case with the animal service of the city of Brampton.

Its manager, Mike Mulick, points out that the animals in his shelter are waiting longer and longer before being adopted. With the return to work, people seem hesitant to take on new responsibilities, especially due to the economy and rising interest rates, so the animals in our care are staying here longer , laments Mr. Mulick.

According to him, the waiting time has gone from 15 days a few years ago, to almost 25 days.

Brampton animal service manager Mike Mulick says dogs at his shelter wait an average of 25 days before being adopted.

“ [Animals] start to accumulate and take up space to the point where we can't accommodate any more.

—Brampton Animal Services Manager Mike Mulick

The Toronto Humane Society is one of those organizations that takes in abandoned animals and tries to find them a foster family.

Its director general, Jacques Messier, also thinks that the economic reason is the main factor that makes people give up their pets. According to him, in most cases, people can't afford medical treatment for their pet, or sometimes it's even because of food costs.

In an attempt to offer a solution, the non-profit organization offers programs to help people in need. We will give free food for dogs, cats or other animals. We can also help them with veterinary costs, or do most of the care at home, explains Mr. Messier.

He recommends people who can no longer afford to take care of their pets to contact a shelter like his to find solutions.

With information from Andréane Williams and CBC

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