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Maple Ridge SPCA sees slowdown in animal adoptions

Even kittens and puppies are staying longer at the shelter before finding a new home
Dozer and Midnight are a bonded pair who are available for adoption at the Maple Ridge branch of the BC SPCA. They have been in care for 53 days. “Both are incredibly lovely and Dozer loves to snuggle up on a nice lap,” said branch manager Kahlee Demers. (Kahlee Demers/Special to The News)

The BC SPCA is seeing a slowdown in animal adoptions across the province – a first since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic – including at the Maple Ridge branch.

Kahlee Demers, manager of the Maple Ridge branch said the slowdown is with all species of animals, not just with adult dogs and cats.

“Even puppies and kittens we are seeing an intense decrease in adoptions,” she said.

Usually puppies and kittens are only available for a couple of days before they find a home.

“We had recent puppies stay in care for a few weeks before they went home, before we found enough homes to put them in. That was definitely unprecedented,” added Demers.

During the height of the COVID pandemic in 2020-21, BC SPCA locations across the province were flooded with adoption applications as people sought the companionship and comfort of a pet to help them cope with the social isolation.

Now, Demers said, animals are staying at the shelter for lengthier time periods.

Currently she has three rats available for adoption.

“Usually rats go really, really fast, but they have not been” Demers noted.

There are 12 cats available for adoption and five dogs.

READ MORE: 71 cats seized by SPCA from rural B.C. property

Lorie Chortyk, general manager of communications for the BC SPCA, said interest in adoptions has remained strong until now. This past summer, though, saw an abrupt slowdown in applications.

“We currently have more than 1,500 animals in our care – about 700 in our shelters and the rest in volunteer foster homes,” explained Chortyk.

“During the summer we always have a huge influx of kittens needing homes, but this year we have so many other animals awaiting their forever homes as well.”

Demers explained that when animals take a long time to be adopted out there is great impact on the facility. For one, she said, they can’t help as many animals because there is no more space to take them in.

Also, it is not good for the animal to be in a shelter for a long period of time.

ALSO READ: 97 rats surrendered to SPCA from B.C. home

“It’s better for the animal to get into a home and have a family,” she said.

Demers noted that in addition to a slow down in adoptions, her branch is also seeing an increase in people needing to surrender their animals – a consequence, Demers believes, of a lack of housing in the community, combined with the cost of living.

Currently Demers has about 300 animals on her surrender list.

“People are struggling right now,” she said.

While the animals are in care at the shelter, she said, they are being spoiled. But, ultimately Demers want them all to find their forever homes.

So far this year the BC SPCA has adopted out more than 5,000 animals so far this year.

Anyone looking to adopt can go to to view animals.

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Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

Colleen Flanagan is an award-winning multimedia journalist with more than 15 years experience in the industry.
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