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Adoptions up, euthanasia down at Toronto animal shelters

"It's a great news story," says Toronto Animal Services manager Elizabeth Glibbery.

Toronto Marlie Christopher Gibson gives some attention to 10-month-old Frederica, a pug-beagle mix at the Toronto South Animal Shelter. Toronto Animal Services says it’s had to euthanize fewer animals this year than in 2015.

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Toronto Marlie Christopher Gibson gives some attention to 10-month-old Frederica, a pug-beagle mix at the Toronto South Animal Shelter. Toronto Animal Services says it’s had to euthanize fewer animals this year than in 2015.

Humans may have had a lot to complain about in 2016, but it turns out it was a banner year for cats and dogs.

According to data from the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, adoption rates were up and euthanasia cases down at animal shelters across the country this year.

It’s a trend that’s “absolutely” visible in Toronto, says Elizabeth Glibbery, manager of Toronto Animal Services.

“It’s a great news story,” she said. “We’ve seen a significant decline in the number of cats coming in to shelters over the past two or three years, and because of that decline, we’ve made a concerted effort to decrease our euthanasia rates.”

To date, Animal Services has euthanized 1,369 domestic animals this year, compared to 1,675 in 2015.

Animals are only puts down animals in extreme cases of illness, injury or behavioural issues, Glibbery said. Half of all animals euthanized are brought to shelters by owners because they’re very old or sick.

In most cases, Glibbery said staff successfully rehabilitate animals, or find partner organizations to care for them if they’re not adopted.

“For staff, it’s something they’re very proud of. Having to euthanize an animal weighs on them heavily,” she said.

Glibbery suspects the decrease in strays is due to the city’s “aggressive” spay, neuter, return program for feral cats and the fact that more people “realize it’s healthier to sterilize their animals.”

Adoption rates are also up, something Glibbery attributes to people having “bad experiences” sourcing pets online.

As a result, Glibbery said Animal Services can now dedicate more resources to other programs, including rehabilitating wildlife and reducing barriers to pet ownership for lower-income Torontonians.

“We’ve really changed the way we deliver our services and the services we deliver have changed,” she said.    

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