Pets surrendered to Toronto shelters up 75 per cent from last year due to return to office, rising costs

The number of pets surrendered to Toronto shelters so far this year is up 75 per cent compared to the first half of 2021, due to residents returning back to the office and rising pet-related costs.

According to Toronto Animal Services (TAS), 709 pets, including cats, dogs and others, were given to city shelters from January 1 to June 23 this year, compared to 404 during the same time period last year.

TAS says the surge in pet surrenders is due to a number of reasons, including many people returning to work as COVID-19 conditions improve.

“…Many people who had obtained pets during the COVID-19 pandemic may now have to return to work and as a result are unable to keep their pets. In the case of dogs, some dogs may show symptoms of separation anxiety if their owners are having to go back to work on-site and this too may contribute to owners surrendering pet dogs,’ TAS said in a statement to CP24 on Tuesday.

TAS added that the cost of food and pet care has increased substantially in the past year, making it difficult for many residents to keep their pets.

It also said that many high-energy, large breeds have been surrendered to city shelters and are up for adoption.

“When adopting a dog, it is important for the pet owners to consider the size of the dog as well as the breed requirements. Some owners may underestimate the amount of training and exercise required for large breeds,” TAS said.

The agency says there is currently a waitlist for pet surrenders due to the large number of dogs being surrendered or that have come in as strays and never claimed.

In response to the rising number of animals in the shelter system, the city has launched a short and long-term foster program to find homes for pets in need.

TAS also has initiatives to help residents keep their pets as they believe the best place for a pet is with their owner.

Last week, TAS hosted its first mobile chip truck of the year, providing microchip, pet licensing and rabies vaccines for pets at a reduced cost.

The next chip truck event is scheduled for July 27 at Breakaway Community Services. Free cat and dog food is also available at the truck while supplies last.

TAS also has a SNYP truck which provides spay and neuter services for dog and cat owners in low income households.

Residents with a household income of less than $50,000 must make an appointment for the SNYP truck by calling 416-338-6281 or emailing

Pets who are available for adoption can be found here.

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