From jigsaw puzzles to baking bread, the restrictions resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have changed people’s hobbies.  Pets have also become more popular among people who are spending more time at home and are away from their usual social settings or workplaces.

At Animatch, a dog adoption service located in Pointe-Fortune, the demand for dogs exceeds the supply.

“Things are busy,” said founder Helen Lacroix.

Animatch usually places 400 to 450 dogs in new homes each year but could only place a few more than 200 in 2020, despite having 7,000 people apply to adopt a dog.

Lacroix is concerned that the demand for dogs will benefit puppy mills where dogs are intensely bred, animal welfare practices are very poor, and illegal.

Animatch has not seen an influx of orphaned dogs from people who decided to give up pets adopted during the pandemic. Lacroix is, however, anticipating an increase of “pandemic puppies” up for adoption once the COVID-19 situation subsides further.

In addition to food and exercise, pet dogs need to be well-behaved.

“People don’t realize the training that’s involved,” Lacroix said, adding that owning a pet is a commitment.

Cost is also something prospective dog owners must consider before they get a dog.  Adoption from Animatch costs $425 for an adult dog, and $450 for a puppy.  The price includes vaccination, sterilization, microchip, and de-worming treatment.  Lacroix said that sterilization of their pets is important for new dog owners. She also urged those considering adoption to adopt only from a reputable rescue service.

Lacroix highlighted that adoption is also different from purchasing a dog from a breeder, which can cost thousands of dollars.

She also had advice for dog owners who decide to give up their pet.  Surrender it to a reliable rescue service and do not offer to give it away online.  Unsterilized dogs offered online run a risk of being scooped up by puppy mills.

At Animatch, most of the dogs are rescued from Kuujjuarapik and Whapmagoostui, two remote communities in northern Québec.  Overpopulation of stray dogs is a problem in some northern communities and Animatch has had contacts in the two communities for several years who arrange to have stray dogs sent south for adoption.

Due to its location on Route 342, just off of Autoroute 40 near the provincial boundary, Animatch is a popular choice for people from the Montréal area and Eastern Ontario who are interested in adopting a dog.

Meanwhile, over at Pickle Patch Farm near Dalkeith, the annual litter of red tri Aussie puppies found homes almost as quickly as all six of them were born back in November.

“They were all spoken for,” said owner Artje den Boer, who limits availability to one litter per year.

She said that there was interest from the local area and from Ottawa in the puppies.

Animatch founder Helen Lacroix with one of the dogs up for adoption at the facility in Pointe-Fortune. Photo: James Morgan