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COVID-19: As restrictions ease, Parksville animal rescue fills up with pets

Founder concerned with the rising trend and mounting costs
Leah Moore, founder of the Flying Fur Animal Rescue and Refuge in Parksville, on Nov. 9, 2021, as she holds one of the many rabbits recently abandoned at her facility. (Mandy Moraes photo)

A Parksville animal rescue that has been recently flooded with abandoned animals is worried this may only be the beginning.

Leah Moore, founder of Flying Fur Animal Rescue and Refuge (FFARR), said she has close to 90 animals in her care, which is approximately double their numbers from previous years.

“Normally it slows down this time of year. It’s usually a lot busier in spring and summer for us. But it’s been continuing this year,” she said.

Moore founded FFARR approximately 10 years ago after agreeing to foster animals from local veterinary clinics and the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre in Coombs, where she once worked as a wildlife rehabilitator.

“I think it’s just basically starting, because there still are people working from home. But as people are getting busy and (COVID) restrictions are lifting and people are going on vacation, there’s been a lot more animals coming in,” she said.

Aside from the population being more mobile, Moore believes that many first-time pet owners did not realize how expensive animal supplies and vet care can be. Some of the animals that do get dropped off exhibit behavioural issues, such as separation anxiety, leading her to believe that they haven’t been without their ‘pet parents’ for longer periods of time.

READ MORE: Canadians urged to include pets in their COVID-19 emergency plans

Approximately a month ago, Moore said a pair of week-old kittens were found abandoned in a box near Springwood Park, but have since been housed together.

According to Moore, the animals being brought to her are younger, usually under two years old, and are more commonly rabbits or cats.

One solution, she believes, is for first-time ‘pet parents’ to foster an animal before adopting, to see if they are able to make that long-term commitment and understand the associated financial costs.

As an independent animal rescue, essentially all the financial support for FFARR is generated through fundraising, the help of local businesses, and community support.

Moore has endured many sleepless nights, not only caring for animals but also worrying about the animals that do come in, their medical needs, and generally making ends meet.

“I have to laugh or it’ll drive me nuts,” she said with a chuckle.

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Mandy Moraes

About the Author: Mandy Moraes

I joined Black Press Media in 2020 as a multimedia reporter for the Parksville Qualicum Beach News, and transferred to the News Bulletin in 2022
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