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Here’s why local humane societies are seeing more abandoned pets


Humane societies are seeing an alarming trend in Southwestern Ontario – long waitlists to surrender pets.

According to the Cambridge & District Humane Society, they currently have more than 26 dogs, 26 cats and 20 small animals waiting to get into the shelter.

They say the top reasons for surrendering include moving, training issues, finances and lack of time.

“The animals we have were not born and raised on the streets of Cambridge,” a humane society spokesperson explained in an email to CTV News. “They’ve lived in a home, they’ve had a family, but they all became unwanted in one way or another. No one called looking for them. No one filed a lost report and no one came to the shelter to pick them up.

"Hillside Kennels Animal Control in Innerkip services numerous municipalities in Southwestern Ontario, picking up stray dogs. Right now, they have about 30 dogs in their care.

“We have had up to 45 at one point,” said owner-operator, Tracey Gibson.

Gibson believes many of the dogs are ones people got during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of people got a puppy when they were quarantining. That puppy wasn’t socialized with people or animals,” Gibson said.

Gibson says some of those dogs began to exhibit behavioural issues as they got older, and as their owners returned to the office. She says many are large dogs as well, and some won’t do well in homes with other animals or children, meaning they could end up staying at Hillside for a while.

“It’s hard to adopt a dog that has behavioural issues."

With so many dogs in their care, Hillside is not currently taking surrenders. Places that do often have long wait lists.

Some of Hillside's dogs are being transferred to the Ontario SPCA York Region Animal Centre so they don't have to resort to euthanizing animals.

"We did reach out to the SPCA so that we can avoid having to do that and we haven't had to do that since the SPCA has stepped in and helped us out," Gibson said.

Meanwhile, local humane societies said they’ll continue to promote responsible pet ownership and encourage people to educate themselves before adopting a pet.

Surrendering process

There is a process pet owners have to follow when it comes to surrendering animals. For most humane societies, it can be difficult to predict how long someone will have to wait before their pet is accepted into an adoption program as the only way space is freed up is when the animals that are already in their care get adopted.

Kitchener Waterloo & Stratford Perth

The Humane Society of Kitchener Waterloo Stratford Perth has a total of 63 animals on their surrender waitlist.

"People should expect unfortunately a minimum wait time of one to three months minimum,” said Animal Care Coordinator, Erinn Spicer. “Bunnies, cats, dogs, small animals, rodents, turtles, anything is looking to be rehomed at this time.”

Spicer says the humane society offers a pet pantry with food and supplies and can connect people with lower cost animal trainers or one who specialize in behavioural issues in hopes of cutting back on the number of surrenders.

“I will say, we are at an all-time high and a lot of shelters are in crisis mode. They have too many animals they have to service.”

If you have to surrender, staff will arrange an appointment for you to bring in your pet into one of their centres.

A surrender form can also be filled out online.

Owners are encouraged to wait until the centre has space available before surrendering their pet, otherwise they’ll be put on a waitlist.

More information can be found here.


All surrenders must have a booked appointment with the Cambridge & District Humane Society.

Like other local humane societies, the ability to take in animals is dependent on available space.

Staff are also encouraging people to look into the humane society’s resources before beginning the surrendering process.


The Guelph Humane Society arranges for animals to be surrendered by appointment only.

Animals being surrendered can be placed on a waitlist if the shelter cannot accept the pet right away.

There is a surrender fee based on a variety of factors that would be discussed during the appointment.

More information can be found here.

Brant County

The Brant County SPCA currently has several dozen animals on their surrender waitlist.

“The rising costs of veterinary care and dog training are making it challenging for many people to afford to keep their pets,” Jen Rienties, a spokesperson for the humane society, said in an email to CTV News.

While surrenders are accepted, they are handled on a case-by-case basis and are dependent on available shelter resources.

A surrender form can be filled out on their website. Top Stories

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