A local pet boarding facility is seeking permanent homes for a couple of furry guests who have overstayed their reservations and whose owners aren’t interested in settling the bill.
Barkers Pet Motel in St. Albert is seeking homes for a two-year-old collie named Sandy and a female calico cat named Chuck, which have been there since September and October, respectively. Despite repeated calls to their respective owners, it’s become clear that no one is coming for the animals.
“I don’t like it. It was over our busy season so it would have been nice to fill those spots with people who were on the wait list,” said owner Sandi Aldred.
It’s rare for pet owners to abandon their animals and it’s just by coincidence she’s dealing with two situations at the same time, said Aldred. She doesn’t believe these owners initially intended to abandon their animals.
The dog’s owner had been a good and regular customer prior to dropping off the collie in September. Aldred has since learned, mainly from the person listed as the emergency contact that the owner is out of the country and unable to return because his work visa has expired.
“These are all stories that we’re getting,” Aldred said. “We don’t really know the honest reason why he didn’t come back. I don’t think people who leave animals in this situation actually tell you the truth.”
The cat’s owner has told Aldred that he would be coming in or sending a cheque but now he’s stopped taking her calls.
While she’s an animal lover, Aldred’s main message is that she’s operating a kennel and not a shelter.
“It’s a big responsibility that we would rather not have,” she said.
Leaving a pet might be unthinkable to most owners, but some come to view their animals as an inconvenience and abandon them in a simple act of laziness, said Sandy Landon, owner of Wagging Tails Pet Resort in Sturgeon County. He’s only had two such cases in 10 years. There’s not much he can do but tap into his network of pet owners to try and find a home.
“That dog’s better off with you than with an owner that’s going to abandon it anyway, so you might as well just cut your losses and do the best you can for the dog,” he said.
According to Alberta’s Animal Protection Act, a boarding facility may consider an animal abandoned if it’s left for five days or more after the expected retrieval time. To protect itself against potential lawsuits from disgruntled pet owners, a kennel should turn over any animal to a humane society, said Morris Airey, director of animal protection services for the Alberta Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA.)
The SPCA can then sign animals back to a kennel operator who prefers to find a home for them themselves, Airey said.
Undoubtedly, it has been done [without our approval]in the past and may continue to be done but going through us makes it legal under the legislation, he said.
For pet owners, the best option for an unwanted pet is to bring it to the Edmonton Humane Society, said spokesperson Shawna Randolph. The organization takes owner surrenders from St. Albert for an admission fee of $60 for dogs and cats.