by Isabella Steed

It is an unimaginable circumstance for those who have not lost a home. To be wary of your next meal, to fear whether or not you will have a place to sleep at night other than the comforts of cold grass and pavement.

Unfortunately, this is a reality that exists in the city of Calgary. Despite the aims of the city’s ten-year plan to end homelessness, shelters are still overrun much in part due to the economic downfall of the coronavirus pandemic. The problem intensifies during periods of extreme cold, rain, and snow. This past April and June, Calgary has faced an unseasonable amount of rainfall, with averages for the entire month being met in only two days. Unbeknownst to Calgarians, rain in Alberta is cold and drastically lowers temperatures.

Currently, in the city of Calgary, there are no homeless shelters which can accommodate animals. In periods of high rainfall or cold, homeless persons who wish to seek shelter must make a choice. Sleep under a roof or give up their companion. Though a shelter may provide a warm bed, these people love their pets, and it is easy to understand why they choose to stand by them. It is an impossible decision. An unfair decision that no one should have to make.

While temperatures are increasing, the threat to safety is still imminent for homeless persons and their pets. Many of these pets and their owners still require safe, affordable housing and veterinary checkups. There is an urgent need for assistance that organizations are struggling to meet with limited resources. Parachutes for Pets founder Melissa Davis said, “it seems to be a perfect combination of the affordable housing crisis, lack of pet-friendly rentals, and the rising cost of living.” The combination has resulted in a crisis for homeless pet owners struggling to provide for their pets. 

Organizations, including Parachutes for Pets, are overwhelmed by the demand for assistance. In three days, Parachutes for Pets received nine emergency calls for help from recently homeless individuals with pets struggling in the rain. Numerous individuals also face financial difficulties and are forced to consider giving up their pets to afford their own basic needs. This creates another problem as pounds and shelters like the Calgary Humane Society are at overcapacity.

Parachutes for Pets is committed to ensuring owners can stay with their pets by providing essential resources and services like food and veterinary care. Regardless, Parachutes require the community’s support to keep up with the growing demand. Donations and support of programs like the summer 50/50 raffle, Lily’s Legacy, and Dexter’s Doghouse of Hope are needed now more than ever.