Edmonton’s Animal Care and Control Center has suddenly suspended the admission of healthy animals until further notice and is asking residents to take care of lost or missing pets in the meantime.
But animal rescues and residents are sounding the alarm about the surprising change, worrying about the duty now being placed on them to take care of these animals instead of the city service that Edmontonians pay for.
The city of Edmonton announced on Saturday afternoon the immediate, temporary suspension on social media, as extremely cold temperatures are expected to continue over the city next week.
The temporary change is a result of staffing and capacity challenges, the city said, noting that the shift would allow the center to focus on the animals already being cared for at the Northwest Edmonton facility.
Instead of bringing stray or stray dogs and cats into the center, the city asks residents to try to find the owner themselves and take care of the animal until they get back together. If the animal has a card with a license number on it, residents can call 311 for information about the owner. Animals considered to be in medical distress, injured or sick are still only accepted by appointment.
But Vanessa Freeman, co-founder of Rescue Community Cats Edmonton, said this could lead to many challenges, including the ability for already protracted rescues to help care for these animals if residents could not. Lack of communication from the city has left rescuers to come up with a solution, Freeman said, noting that on Sunday they received only four calls about cats needing help.
“Rescues are busy, we are full. So to make a change and not ask for rescues to help in any way, but just imply that if the city can not help, the rescues should. I just do not understand that.” , she said. “I’m just not sure if this action was taken with the thought of the impact it would have on the animals and the community.”
Dog owner Valerie Bielenda said she believes many residents will do anything to protect animals from the current extreme cold weather, but this can lead to problems if the animal is aggressive or unintentional and leaves residents alone to control.
“It’s not acceptable because they endanger the public, because if you accidentally take in an aggressive dog, then there is a risk to the people,” she said. “This may not be a safe alternative, it may not be what they expect from people.”
Appointments for animals sick, injured or in need can still be made online.