Local humane societies have seen a significant surge in the number of pets surrendered over the last year, and the cost of living is largely to blame.

Calla James, the director of community engagement and outreach at the Humane Society of Kitchener-Waterloo Stratford-Perth, said 2,344 hundred pets were surrendered to their centers in 2022, a 44 per cent surge of surrenders compared to 2021.

“People are just getting caught coming out of the pandemic with inflation being so high and now looking at, ‘am I feeding my family or feeding my pet?’” said James.

The humane society said most pet owners do not want to surrender their furry friends but underestimated the cost of care, particularly when it comes to emergencies.

“As restrictions started to ease, we did see an increase in call volume come in for both surrender inquiries and looking for help like, what do I do when I have this emergency for my pet and where do I go,” said James.

According to the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association, the annual average cost of caring for a puppy is about $4,600, and the yearly cost of taking care of a dog is about $3,700. As for cats, the OVMA said the annual cost of care is approximately 2,500, and for kittens, it will cost about 3,100 a year.

“Just like you would a rainy day fund for yourself, plan that for your pet as well,” advised James.

There was also an increase in pet surrenders at the Guelph Humane Society.

Jane Dawkins, the director of community engagement at the Guelph Humane Society, said economic factors and lifestyle changes were the main reason behind the increase in cat and dog surrenders.

Dawkins said there were 322 cats and 97 dogs surrendered in 2022, which is a 53 per cent and 33 per cent increase compared to last year.

James urged anyone interested in getting a pet to do their research. James advised those who are struggling to care for their pet to reach out for support.

“We have our pet pantry program. We have low cost veterinary services. We also have training resources that you can take a look at, and we hope people will access those and ultimately be able to keep the pet at home,” said James.

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