The Effect of Covid-19 on HSKL
By McKayla Walden - HSKL Shelter Manager
Covid-19 was a wild start to 2020. Unfortunately, 2021 and 2022 have been similar. The Humane Society of Kawartha Lakes has continued operating the despite many struggles; some new, and many old.
The HSKL has overcome many of the challenges that it has faced – often making great steps forward in the process. With the world shutting down off and on these past two years, the Shelter has remained strong. How could we not? We are often the only voice for the animals – particularly in the Kawartha Lakes where pet overpopulation is a sad reality.
When Covid began, the Shelter saw a huge demand for pet adoptions, even coming from as far as the GTA and Ottawa. The phones were constantly ringing, emails were filling our inboxes and everyone seemed to be searching for that perfect pet – particularly kittens and puppies. Obviously the HSKL supports adoptions, however the surge in people looking for animals was overwhelming from a staffing perspective. Although our doors were closed during the major lockdowns, staff was still at the Shelter ensuring that it operated, animals were cared for, emergencies were dealt with and surrendered animals were brought in safely.
As time went on, there were struggles getting into vets for regular appointments, spay/neuters, and even emergencies. HSKL worked with a handful of vets before the pandemic, however, now thew Shelter works will 10+ clinics to ensure that our animals are seem in a timely manner, even going as far as Georgian Triangle in Collingwood to do spays/neuters. It seemed every vet was overbooked – the Shelter even struggled to get same-day emergencies seen. As time passed, our spay/neuter waitlist turned from weeks to months.
During the start of the pandemic, the Shelter saw a dip in surrenders. As the lockdown protocols started to loosen and families started to go back to work, small animals, such as rabbits and guinea pigs, were starting to be dropped off in high numbers. Rescues and shelters alike were struggling to squeeze them into their facilities. Then came the dogs, mainly under socialized dogs, many who weren’t used to other dogs or animals, and strangers. The HSKL began seeing a lot of behavioural dogs, very closely followed by medical issues. Like us, owners couldn’t get into their vets, nor afford the fees.
As we move into 2022, we are noticing more animals being surrendered due to marital separation. It wasn’t noticed too much at first but a lot of dogs coming to us was due to the families separating. An uncommon occurrence that we don’t usually see. Next on that list was many families becoming homeless and needing to surrender their animals just to find a spot to stay the night safely, while ensuring their animals had a safe spot as well.
The HSKL food bank has been nearly depleted many times in the last few months as word gets around more that HSKL has a program for those needing food temporarily. We are finding many people in need during the entire period of Covid, with not enough support for them.
Moving forward in 2022, HSKL will help as many animals as we can in the community by continuing to take in strays and surrenders. With the help of vets locally and in different cities we are continuing our spay/neuter surgeries and getting emergency cases in. Thanks to the community support we are receiving cat and dog food for our Food Bank. We are continuing adoptions daily with cats, dogs and small animals finding a forever home. Lastly, we are implementing an updated Foster Program to help even more animals. Thank you very much to every volunteer, donor, adopter, and supporter of the Humane Society.