Pandemic pet parent remorse: Sudbury rescue group getting so many unwanted dogs it has to turn some away

The head of Pet Save animal rescue group in Greater Sudbury says the pandemic is having a negative impact on some animals in the area.

Many people got pets during pandemic, but if not trained properly developed behaviour problems

An animal rescue group in Sudbury says they're seeing an increase in the number of dogs surrendered to them. Many of the animals were adopted over the pandemic and small bad habits turned into big behavioural problems. (Pet Save Sudbury )

A northern Ontario pet rescue group says it's had to start turning away unwanted dogs that were adopted during the pandemic. 

Many people got pets during the pandemic, but Jill Pessot, director of Pet Save in Sudbury, says if they weren't properly train or socialized it likely led to anti-social behaviour in the dogs, and now their owners don't know what to do with them.

Jill Pessot, director of Pet Save in Sudbury, says they have 8 dogs with behavioural issues, which a 20-year record. Normally that number is 1 or 2. (Jan Lakes/CBC)

Some are posting online to try to sell their unwanted dogs. 

"If you're looking for a dog this year on the net — and there's a bunch of them on there — be careful because there's a reason they're on there. If every [dog] was a perfect dog, they wouldn't be on the internet," she said.

Other owners are surrendering their new pets to shelters or rescue groups like Pet Save

"And now they're coming into rescues because people, number one, couldn't even enlist trainers for a while or didn't know when to enlist that trainer," Pessot said.

There are eight dogs in the Pet Save kennel with behaviour issues, where they normally only have one or two. 

Pessot is getting calls daily about owners wanting to surrender animals to her, and she's having to turn them away.

Patience and proper training helps 

Many pet issues could be solved with patience and a good trainer to help.

Jacqueline Preyde is founder of Canine Intuition Training and Rehabilitation, a dog training service in Sudbury that specializes in behavioural correction. 

Her biggest piece of advice to new dog owners is to crate-train their pooch.

"Crate training is a very useful tool, especially in a time where dogs are very dependent on their owners," she said. "If you create the crate as a safe space it really helps with the transition with then having to leave the home."

Preyde also suggests giving the dog something to lick or chew before you have to leave them at home by themselves. That provides mental stimulation and a distraction.

She warns new dog owners to do proper research on the breed they're considering and methods for correct training, adding there are lots of great resources online.

"When it comes to certain behaviours though, I'm adamant about reaching out to a professional, just because we see a lot more anxiety and reactivity nowadays than we used to," Preyde said. 

"We just see a lot of people that don't understand the magnitude of what a certain breed or what a puppy requires anymore."


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