Matching owners and pets is key to minimizing need for rehoming

Jennifer McLaughlin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

An Ontario animal welfare organization aims to keep owners and their adopted pets together.

A study by Canadian research firm Abacus Data showed that about 3 per cent of Canadians got a new pet during COVID-19.

Pandemic effects such as work-at-home arrangements, limited social interaction, and a general lifestyle shift are some factors that contributed to the growth.

Sadly, several animal welfare organizations have reported increased requests for pets to be rehomed in recent months as lives slowly return to “normal.”

Individuals and families may not have the time or flexibility that they had to care for a pet when the pandemic was at its peak. Recent financial pressure from the rising cost of living is another cause cited.

Fortunately, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) is not seeing a drastic increase in requests for rehoming of animals compared to their pre-pandemic numbers.

Interest in adoption remains high, and rehoming requests have remained steady year over year.

“Our goal is to try to keep pets with their families and prevent unnecessary rehoming,” said Ashley Molnar, spokesperson for the Ontario SPCA.

“The key to developing successful adoptions lies in making good matches between adopters and pets, thus creating lasting bonds,” says the Ontario SPCA website.

Helping potential pet owners assess their match with pets available for adoption is facilitated by the organization’s Meet Your Match tool.

The program “evaluates an animal’s behaviour and interests and matches them to an adopter’s preferences to help ensure that the matches we’re making are for a lifetime,” explained Molnar.

Trained team members carry out scientifically-based behavioural assessments on the animals. The animals are then colour-coded based on the findings.

A potential adopter completes a brief one-page survey that assesses criteria such as experience level, lifestyle, and how they envision a pet fitting into their home and life. The survey also promotes discussion and thought about the responsibility and commitment of owning a pet. A colour is assigned based on the outcome of the survey.

Adopters are encouraged to focus on pets who match their colour but are not restricted by this guideline. The idea is for potential adopters to make more informed and confident choices, making the pet more likely to be adopted into a forever home.

To support pet owners during times of financial hardship, the Ontario SPCA works to connect owners in need with resources such as food banks, emergency shelters, and spay and neuter services.

Adoption team members are available as a resource and encourage anyone needing assistance to reach out.

The Ontario SPCA’s York Region Animal Centre is located at 16586 Woodbine Avenue, Stouffville. The organization has eleven other locations throughout Ontario, including the Markham Cat Adoption & Education Centre, 7755 Bayview Avenue, Markham.

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