British Columbia

Dogs languish in some shelters as pandemic winds down, says Surrey shelter

An animal shelter in Surrey, B.C., is putting out a call to would-be dog owners after pet adoptions dropped as people return to workplaces, leading to months-long stays for some dogs.

The city animal shelter says some dogs are waiting hundreds of days to be adopted

Surrey Animal Resource Centre Manager Shelley Joaquin plays with Honey in the sandbox that was created to help keep her and other dogs at the shelter busy during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Surrey Animal Resource Centre)

An animal shelter in Surrey, B.C., is putting out a call to would-be dog owners after pet adoptions dropped as the COVID-19 pandemic threat wanes, leading to months-long stays for some dogs.

After a flurry of adoptions at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city animal shelter is reporting a steady decline in the number of people taking dogs home, compared to what used to be an average of an 11-day wait in the shelter.

The Surrey Animal Resource Centre says it has seen the number of days animals wait steadily increase over the last few months, and there are now several dogs it says have been at the shelter for more than 100 days.

One dog named Honey has been there for more than 250 days, centre staff said in an email Wednesday.

It said that while the "loveable and friendly" Honey has taken on the role as the unofficial shelter greeter, there can be long-term consequences for animals who stay for such long periods.

"The longer an animal is at the shelter, you can have things like depression set in," said centre manager Shelley Joaquin.

She said they get bored and then depressed.

Shelter staff have come up with creative ways to enrich the animals lives, including making popsicles in the summertime, and adding extra walks for longer-term canine residents.

Other upgrades were added during the pandemic to help enhance the quality of life for the animals, including an area made of 3,300 pounds of rubber recycled from 215 car tires which it calls the Enchanted Forest.

"[Honey is] only about one year and eight months and the really sad thing is that she's been here for eight months, so she's almost been at the shelter for half of her life. And so we're really wanting to see her get adopted," Joaquin said. 

The Surrey Animal Resource Centre is located at 17944 Colebrook Road and is open daily from noon to 5 p.m., by appointment only, as long as the pandemic lasts.

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