We’re thrilled to announce today that we (Edmonton Humane Society) have joined forces with Tails of Help, another local charity, to launch a new pilot project that aims to reduce surrenders of sick and injured pets when their guardians face financial hardship. The goal during this pilot is to help one family per month receive essential veterinary care for their pet due to unexpected, one-time incidents so that they can keep their pet in their home.

“We’ve all faced tough times in life where one unexpected bill – such as for a sick or injured pet – forces us to make an impossible choice,” said Liza Sunley, CEO of the Edmonton Humane Society. “It’s a heartbreaking decision for someone to have to surrender or euthanize their pet because they cannot afford the necessary veterinary care. With this program, Tails of Help and EHS can help them get through these challenges and maintain that human-animal bond.

Of the nearly 500 companion animals who were surrendered into EHS’ care in the past 18 months, just over 10% of them were due to financial hardship or pet health-related reasons. This is consistent with the rate that was seen in 2019, before the pandemic.

“Tails of Help has been funding essential veterinary care since 2013 for these types of situations, and every year we’re seeing more families and pets in need of our help,” said Mark Patrick, Executive Director of Tails of Help. “The Edmonton Humane Society is the first shelter we’ve partnered with to address pet surrenders specifically, and we’re so grateful they see the value in keeping these pets with their loving families and will support this program to make that possible.”

Candidates for the program will be identified from the surrender requests which come into EHS, then recommended to Tails of Help based on their situation. Tails of Help will then determine if they meet the eligibility requirements. Those that do will be referred to a local veterinarian for the necessary treatment instead of surrendering their pet. EHS and Tails of Help will both contribute to covering the costs of the care.

“If there’s anything we’ve learned this past year-and-half, it’s that the companionship and comfort our pets provide during difficult times is invaluable,” added Sunley. “Even one family being permanently separated from their pet because of an accident or unexpected illness while facing financial hardship is too many. When that pet is already in a loving home, it makes sense to help keep them there when we can.”

The pilot project began this summer and will run to the end of 2021. At that time, it will be evaluated by EHS and Tails of Help to determine its viability moving forward.

Those that wish to support the program can donate to the Edmonton Humane Society at edmontonhumanesociety.com/donate, or to Tails of Help at tailsofhelp.ca.