There is currently an overpopulation of companion animals in Alberta at the moment. This has resulted in overcrowding in the rescues and shelters in places like Calgary Humane Society and Rescued Paws who are so full of strays and surrendered animals, that they are unable to take on more.

This has led to more animals being dumped in rural locations by people who feel they have no other choice, as Animal Director and Veterinarian of the Animal Care Centre of Strathmore Doctor Jodi Viste explained. 

"At this time, I strongly encourage pet owners to spay and neuter their pets, avoid breeding them and consider the responsibilities that pet ownership incurs prior to adopting a new pet."

Covid contributed quite astronomically to the overpopulation, Dr. Viste said because when everyone was at home and had no human interactions they decided to go and adopt a pet. 

"It was an ideal time to get a pet because everybody was home. You could train them; you could spend time with your pet. It gave you some socialization which you weren't able to do with other people and so, understandably, a lot of people adopted or purchased puppies and kittens during Covid. Then unfortunately with that, when people get back to work, they are unable to continue caring for their animals." 

Dr. Viste explained that puppies and kittens worldwide are being produced at an alarming rate and not only are there not enough veterinarians to look after all those animals, but there's also a shortage of shelters, humane societies and rescue organizations to look after them as well. 

"If you're thinking about purchasing or adopting a new puppy or kitten or a new older animal, just think of can your lifestyle work with that, or are you able to support that animal? Will it work with your family dynamics and are you willing to find enough time to be with that animal?"

There are also other factors that need to be looked at when adopting or buying a pet Dr. Viste said like being really selective of what animal that you are taking in. 

"There could be aggression, there could be separation anxiety, there's a lot of behavioral issues in the animals nowadays too. So just being aware of what you could be getting with that, that dog or that cat and if that works with your family."

Another problem that Dr. Viste has been seeing is animals being dumped on rural roads or people thinking that it's an abandoned animal on a rural road when in reality it is just a farm dog figuring out their surroundings.

"If you do see a stray, make sure it's not a working dog like it. It might very well have a home out there. So, if an animal looks healthy, it doesn't look in distress. Maybe leave it be on that road because it could belong to a farm in the area, and it could just be out monitoring its borders."

If the problem of overpopulation doesn't get solved, then the consequences have a possibility of being disastrous.

"There's 7 to 8 million animals in shelters on a yearly basis and three to 4 million of them get put down a year. So, we're definitely going to see a lot more euthanasia happening."

Dr. Viste said that despite the stray cat population that Happy Cat Sancturary has done a wonderful job at controlling the stray cats in Strathmore. 

"The most strays that we get and the ones that are not fixed can reproduce extremely fast, and so we're going to see a much bigger stray cat population. Then if there are a lot of stray dogs that start roaming around, they develop packs and then when you get a pack of dogs, they will attack small dogs and cats very commonly, and so we'll see more dog attacks. We will see more like stray scavenging and things will get really ugly really fast." 

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