Don't release unwanted pets into National Parks, beg officials

Border collie standing on rock in snowy winter landscape
(Image credit: Getty)

Officials are pleading members of the public not to release dogs and other unwanted pets into National Parks, and to rehome them ethically instead.

Millions of people adopted dogs during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic according to the Washington Post and the BBC, as people sought companionship while working from home.

Now that workers are returning to offices, however, many have found themselves unable to care for their animals. Some owners underestimated not only the time commitment, but also the costs of owning a growing dog that needs veterinary care, more food, and often socialization classes, boarding, and walking services.

Some people are abandoning pets at animal charities and veterinary surgeries according to The Guardian, and Parks Canada reports that some particularly irresponsible owners are releasing their animals into the wild, where they are unable to fend for themselves, and pose a danger to local wildlife.

As National Parks Traveler reports, a domestic dog believed to have been abandoned was found in Rouge Park, Toronto in November. The animal had been left with a mat and some foot, but had sadly passed away from starvation and exposure to freezing night time temperatures.

Another dog was spotted roaming Rogue Park in December. The husky was seen on the loose on a hiking trail, and the lack of missing dog reports matching its description led officials to believe it too had been released on purpose. It was eventually captured by a volunteer lost pet search group.

Seldom a happy ending

"The release of pets and exotic animals into park lands is not a new trend in Rouge National Urban Park, but there has been an increase in recent years," said Parks Canada in a statement.

"In addition to domestic dogs, park staff are seeing cats, rabbits, reptiles and other exotic wildlife released within park boundaries both on land and in waterways. Despite what the movies might convey, this seldom has a happy ending – not only does the animal suffer, but its release also poses real risks and consequences for the ecological integrity of the park."

Instead, the organization urges owners who can no longer look after their animal to surrender it to a shelter or wildlife sanctuary, where it can be cared for properly and found a new loving home.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.