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Volunteers, donations needed at Calgary Humane Society amid spike in shelter demand


A little more compassion and cash are always welcome things at the Calgary Humane Society as it operates through tough times.

Calgarians are encouraged to volunteer or donate when and where they're able.

The humane society will take any animal in need – as an open-admissions shelter, that's what it does – but demand has seen quite a spike.

"With a 20 per cent increase in abandonment cases in 2023, the shelter has been operating at or above capacity for the past year," the humane society said in a release earlier this week.

"Calgary is growing at a really alarming rate and with more people coming to the city comes more companion animals," said Anna-Lee Fitzsimmons, the humane society's director of public relations, on Thursday.

"So we have seen an increase in demand for our services.

"Our admissions team continues to be busy bringing in animals – 4,000 to 5,000 a year is typically what we see here and – and then we continue to support pet owners in the community as well."

On Thursday, every kennel was full, Fitzsimmons said, and the wait list sat at roughly 200.

She said it's been that way for a while.

"We used to maybe have one or two people contact us for surrender services daily, and now we're seeing anywhere from seven to 12 people a day," she said.

Fitzsimmons previously told CTV Calgary about the rising cost of living impacting pet owners.

"When you look at the people that need to access our animal admissions, it's the same story: unexpected puppies, multiple pets. (They) can't afford between feeding their pets and feeding their kids," Fitzsimmons said in April.

"A lot of people right now are forced between either living in their car just to keep their dog, or surrendering their dog so they can put a roof over their head."

The humane society will take any animal in need – as an open-admissions shelter, that's what it does – but demand has seen quite a spike.

Back in April, Fitzsimmons also noted a rise in breeders that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Our puppy intake has increased by about 200 per cent since 2022, which is massive, and there doesn't seem to be any end in sight," Fitzsimmons said at the time.

"We do believe that's related to the pandemic and irresponsible backyard breeding. That has led to an increase in unspayed, unneutered animals in the community."

Thursday, an event was held at the humane society's headquarters as part of Telus Days of Giving, a global event that the local shelter has long been a near-and-dear beneficiary of.

Fifteen individuals from Telus were at the humane society on Thursday to volunteer and take some of the pressure off of shelter staff.

"Our team members absolutely love and support the mandate of Calgary Humane," said Sean Wrobel, global lead for Telus Days of Giving.

"They protect some of the most vulnerable members of our community – (animals are) voiceless and need an advocate and they have it in Calgary Humane.

"We love to come out and help, any way we can."

It's help the humane society is grateful for.

"The impact of our group volunteer program is massive. We're lucky enough to work with Telus year after year on their days of giving," Fitzsimmons said.

Wrobel's own volunteering efforts at the humane society began more than 15 years ago.

Telus Days of Giving has provided more than 1,000 hours just to the humane society over the years.

Telus Days of Giving is the company's "signature global volunteer movement," showcasing "a commitment to social impact."

Information about the humane society and how you can help can be found here.

Information about Telus Days of Giving can be found here.

With files from Kevin Green Top Stories

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