Source: CBC (Extract)
Posted: January 16, 2021

‘It’s not an impulse buy. It’s not a chocolate bar,’ says dog rescue worker.

Since the start of the pandemic, SPCA Montreal says it’s dealt with a higher than usual number of dog adoption requests.

Dogs are finding homes, and isolated people are finding companions, and it all sounds like great news.

However, people who work in pet rescue are worried that many of these adoptions are spur-of-the-moment decisions, and once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, many animals will be abandoned.  

Robert Lemieux, the vice-president of Tiny Paws Dog Rescue Canada, says he’s already getting calls from new dog owners who are in way over their heads.

Lemieux spoke with Daybreak host Sean Henry on Friday, and outlined a few things people need to keep in mind when adopting an animal.

The interview is edited and condensed for clarity.

On one hand, this could sound encouraging. More pets are going to owners who want them. What are your concerns when it comes to pandemic adoptions?

Unfortunately, what we’ve seen in the last nine months to a year is a lot of people do not do their research before getting a dog. They get dogs because they’re lonely, which is always a good thing to do if you incorporate it into your lifestyle. But right now, lifestyle is not normal. So, we get a lot of dogs that are going into homes just to keep people company. They are, unfortunately, being under-socialized due to the circumstances. You can’t go out and just take a normal stroll with your dog, or go to the dog park, and you don’t have people coming over.

So, we are rightly worried that once the quarantine is over, we will be flooded with dogs that people just can’t handle when they go back to work because the dogs are totally un-socialized, and they picked the wrong breed for their lifestyles.

So what are some of the considerations that can be overlooked when people want a dog or bring home a dog?

Do your research. Don’t be lazy. It’s not an impulse buy. It’s not a chocolate bar. It’s not ‘oh, it has the perfect size, the perfect colour, let’s take that one.’ Each breed has their own very specific needs. They have very different levels of energy. 

Time is a factor too. We are spending more time at home, but that kind of thing has to be considered for the long-term. 

If a dog is used to being with his human 24/7, when you decide to go back to work and you’re working just a regular eight-hour day, the dog is going to go nuts because you changed his environment completely and it’s not gradual. We’re already getting calls for dogs that have separation anxiety and that are under-socialized and bark at absolutely everything because they haven’t seen anything.

I tell people that if you want to get a dog, consider that you’re adopting a three-year-old child. The time requirements for a three-year-old child and the time requirements for a dog are pretty similar. Unfortunately, a lot of people right now are not thinking long-term. They’re thinking instant gratification, needing somebody with them because they’re lonely. They don’t consider that a Dachshund has a longevity of 15 to 20 years. 

How are you getting ready for when restrictions are lifted?

Right now, what we’re trying to do is bring in as many foster homes as possible — people that already have dogs and their dogs that are well socialized, so they can bring in another dog with them in their household while we re-socialize them to get them ready for adoption. One thing we’re having a hard time with is fundraising. Normally, we have one event per year that brings in 80 per cent of our operating budget. Last year, the event didn’t happen and the one for this upcoming June won’t happen neither. We’re working on a reduced budget, which means that we have to refuse dogs right now because we just can’t pay for the vetting that they need. 

If someone is alone and thinking of getting a dog. What’s the first thing you want them to do before actually doing that?

Use Google. If you Google just a simple phrase like ‘what’s the best dog breed for me?’, you’ll probably have 30 pages. Just go through them. Take the time to go through those quizzes, even though some of them are hilarious, just to get a better idea of the type of dog or the breed that would be more adequate for your lifestyle. 

Be honest when you answer. Don’t be like, ‘I need a dog right now because I am lonely.’ At that point, get a cat. For quarantine, a dog and a cat are pretty much the same thing, except a cat won’t go ballistic once you go back to work.

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