December 22, 2023

An Unexpected Trend

When the pandemic struck Canada in 2020, the number of animals in our care severely dipped as we focused on ensuring we were available for animals who needed us urgently.

Since then, our population has been steadily climbing back to pre-pandemic numbers. Although we’re not there yet, we will be soon, and we have recently seen a trend in our intake that is concerning.

Camilla’s newborn puppies receiving a health exam.

Since October, we have received several litters of puppies — possibly a result of breeders who may not have been able to find buyers for the dogs. The puppies themselves aren’t a serious issue. I say that because they have a very clear and quick pathway to adoption and it’s much better they come to us than the alternative — being abandoned outdoors.

The puppy we’ve pictured in this article is possibly a result of that alternative. Their mother, a great Pyrenees we’ve named Camilla, was found lost, alone and pregnant. Earlier this month, she gave birth while in our care. We don’t know all the details about what brought Camilla to us, but it is possible she came from a breeding situation. Fortunately for her, our team was here to give her the care she needed to safely deliver her babies, and a safe environment to care for them.

In the early days of the pandemic, demand for dogs was much greater than the supply and people were ready to buy a dog regardless of the cost to themselves or the animal. Since then, demand has cooled and adoptions across the country have slowed to a glacial pace, leading many shelters to levels of overcrowding they haven’t seen in years.

Over the past several years, there was a prevalent myth of “pandemic puppies” in the media.  Essentially the story was families who acquired a pet during the pandemic were going to surrender their pets en masse as they returned to work. The OHS has not seen this wave of surrendered pandemic pets, but we have seen an influx of litters of animals; dogs, cats and rabbits alike.

Recently, Ottawa identified affordability as the greatest issue facing Ottawa’s pets and their people. I’m not surprised that people are being more cautious about where they are getting a pet from, and I’m grateful that we haven’t seen a decline in the number of people adopting animals from the OHS. We’re serious when we say adopting from the OHS is the best deal around.

I expect the OHS will continue to see this trend of litters of pets who need our help. With the support of the community, we are prepared to meet their needs.

Adopting, volunteering or donating are all great ways you can help Ottawa’s animals and make sure they have somewhere warm and safe to spend the holidays.

As I prepare for the holidays, I reflect on what I’m grateful for: a strong, competent team of workers and volunteers at the OHS who rally daily to ensure Ottawa’s animals have somewhere safe to be in their time of need; and a caring community that is committed to the welfare of Ottawa’s animals. Thank you for being there. Together, we are building a brighter future for the animals.

Sharon Miko
President & CEO