Pound Rescue in Okotoks is one of many Southern Alberta animal shelters trying to deal with over-capacity issues.

The animal shelter is in its 30th year of operation and has seen an influx of animals in need of homes in the last few years.

Longtime volunteer Fiona Haynes, who has fostered seven dogs for Pound Rescue, explains that there are a few reasons for that.

“COVID definitely played its part. During COVID, everybody wanted a dog or a cat, and so people were breeding them. You couldn’t get one, the shelters were all empty because everybody wanted one. Since people have gone back to work, often those animals don’t fit in with their lifestyle. Breeders have continued to breed thinking that the same need and desire was there, and it’s not. So, you now have an overflow of dogs and cats being bred that there aren’t homes for. And the economy also plays a big part, things are really tough for people right now, everything is expensive. 

While adoptions are a huge part of what Pound Rescue does, so are fosters.

“As a foster, food is provided for the animal, any medical costs are covered as well. All you need to do is just love them. Really just love them,” says Haynes.

She’s been volunteering with Pound Rescue for a few years now and has fostered seven dogs since she started last October after 21 puppies were discovered abandoned.

To those concerned with the prospect of having to part ways with these animals after having spent time with them, Haynes says it offers the unique experience of reintroducing love into many of these animals’ lives.

“That bit can be really hard because you need to welcome them into your home, you need to love them and care for them like you would your own animal but there’s something really magical about bringing an animal into your home and then finding a fantastic forever home  for them., It’s an amazing feeling, especially if you’re taking care of an animal that perhaps has had a really difficult experience, may have needed some medical care or socialization, and then you can actually pass them on to the people that are going to love them, for the rest of their lives. It feels amazing, actually.”

Haynes has been able to enjoy some flexibility in fostering too, as she’s mainly been taking care of older dogs, which is her preference.

“One of the dogs I have myself, she was found in a really severely poor situation. It was -45°, she wasn't even a year old, she was skin and bones, she had a litter of puppies, and only one survived. So, for her, when we have puppies in the house it’s really difficult because when they cry it really upsets her, so for me, that’s a really good reason to take adult dogs. The other reason is that lots of people don’t want to do that, and we really, really need that help. It’s really important that people can open their homes to adult dogs and cats and support them in being able to move forward as well.”
She encourages anyone interested to stop by one of Pound Rescue’s adoption events.

Beyond adoption and fostering, Haynes says ensuring that pets are spayed or neutered contributes to easing the pressure on shelters.

More information on Pound Rescue can be seen on their website and their Facebook page.