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Pandemic pet pandemonium leads to 3 million adoptions in Canada

More British Columbians bought dogs than cats during the pandemic

Finding comfort during the COVID-19 pandemic came in the form of a new furry friend for many Canadians, especially in B.C.

A new national survey found that people living in British Columbia and northern Canada were more likely to add a new pet to their household over the last few years.

Some 2,000 Canadians participated in the November 2021 survey, which found one-third of Canadian pet owners welcomed a new pet into their home since the start of the pandemic. That's about three million pets, according to Pet Valu Canada Inc.

In 2021, Glacier Media interviewed a B.C. dog trainer who was so busy with pandemic puppies she couldn’t keep a waitlist.

Marjanna Wornell, a canine educator and dog trainer at Middle Earth Canine Academy in Colwood, said she was inundated with requests back in July.

“I can’t keep a waitlist because I don’t have time to phone someone back,” she said at the time, noting she was concerned about people transitioning back to work. 

“People are going back to work so there is the whole issue of helping them prepare the dog for that,” Wornell said. “I am concerned that some people are becoming overwhelmed with their dogs. Without help, they would be re-homing them.” 

During an interview on Friday, Wornell says she’s still busier than ever with barking clients. 

“I did have to get one of my colleagues to help in December because I was burning out,” she says. “It was just too much.”

Wornell is trying to keep her classes to four a day, but sometimes she’ll do five.

“The only thing that has changed a little bit is that there are a few more cancellations as of late because people are getting caught up in things and getting COVID-19 themselves,” she tells Glacier Media. 

Margaret Chapman, chief operating officer and partner at Narrative Research, has heard many stories about pet adoption during the pandemic. 

“We were curious to validate if pet ownership was in fact growing and were fascinated to see how such a large proportion of Canadians opened their homes to pets,” she says. 

"It’s really interesting to see how things vary across the country as well.”

The survey, conducted by Narrative Research on behalf of Pet Valu, found that people were cuddling up to their pets more; a third of pet owners welcomed their furry companion to sleep in their bed. 

In Atlantic Canada, pets are more likely to sleep in bed with their family member (42 per cent), compared to pet owners in B.C. and northern Canada (36 per cent) and Ontario (30 per cent).

The survey found people in B.C. were more likely to get a dog versus a cat; it was also revealed that British Columbians prefer their pet sleep in a pet bed (36 per cent). 

Feb. 20 marks National Love Your Pet Day. Now, pet owners will have even more to celebrate with the addition of their four-legged friends.