March 18, 2022 - Meet Honey, one of the friendly and furry long-term residents of the Surrey Animal Resource Centre.

While this active girl brings a smile to most who visit the animal shelter, she’s been there for more than eight months. It’s simply far too long a stay, said Shelter Manager Shelley Joaquin.

“At the beginning of the pandemic there was a high rate of individuals adopting animals, but sadly the longer-term trend has been a drop in adoptions, so we see animals staying for longer periods. At the start of the pandemic, the average length of stay for a dog was 11 days. We’ve seen that steadily increase and we have several dogs who have been here more than 100 days. Honey has been here for more than 250 days and is coming up to her one-year mark,” she explained.

Shelley explained there can be long-term consequences for animals who stay in shelters for long periods which include an increased chance of behavioural problems developing and studies have also show that animals' immune systems can be impacted as a result of long shelter stays.

But Shelley and her team have worked hard during the pandemic to enhance the quality of life for those who have stayed for months at the shelter. Staff and volunteers use the yards as a safe place to interact with the dogs and provide enrichment and training games for the shelter dogs. An ‘Enchanted Forest’ play area has been installed, made of 3,300 lbs of recycled tires from 215 car tires. This project was made possible through a grant from Kal Tire’s Kal’s RePlay Fund.

In Honey’s case, the staff got particularly creative.

“Honey was a 'digger' and was re-decorating the yard with her digging,” Shelley chuckled. “We’ve since created a sand box area. She uses it to hide and dig up her toys. She plays in it, she lays in it. Sand boxes are a great option for dogs who love to dig and it can help dogs keep cool, as well.”

“We love Honey,” she added. “She loves to be outside, and she’s taken on the role of being the unofficial shelter greeter. Not too many people make it to the door without going over to the yard to see her. It’s those sweet eyes of hers, and she gets a lot of pets through the fence. But ultimately, a shelter is not the ideal environment for her. We want her to find her forever home.”

Shelley emphasized that an animal being at a shelter does not mean there’s anything wrong with them and encouraged residents to consider adoption. In fact, adopting an adult dog can come with the benefits of knowing their personality and behaviours in advance.

“Honey is a big girl, and it’s usually the big dogs that see long stays here,” she said. “Puppies aren’t for everybody and can take a lot of work. Their behaviour shows as they grow. Adopting an adult dog means you can see their personality right away, and what their needs are. It’s just understanding what fits with your lifestyle.”

The Surrey Animal Resource Centre at 17944 Colebrook Road is open daily from noon to 5pm, by appointment only during the pandemic.

Donations to the shelter can be made through Canada Helps, by phone at 604-574-6622, and items can be purchased through the shelter’s Amazon wishlist. Physical donations can be dropped off in the blue U-Line bin outside of the shelter during reception hours (noon to 5pm).

Learn more about the Surrey Animal Resource Centre.