The City of Toronto is in Crisis – The Role of Social Work In Keeping Pets and Their Families Together

| November 6, 2023

Toronto Humane Society Addresses the Importance of the Human-Animal Bond

TORONTO, ON. – November 6, 2023 – In the third installment of Toronto Humane Society’s series, “A City in Crisis,” the organization delves into the heart-wrenching reality facing families who are forced to surrender their pets.

Toronto Humane Society brings to light the painful choices that families are making and introduces compassionate solutions provided through their community programs, including the Urgent Care program, Pet Food Bank and their Community Day events.

As the city grapples with economic challenges and soaring living costs, many families find themselves in a devastating situation: the agonizing decision to part with their cherished pets. These decisions are emotionally taxing and take an immeasurable toll on both the families and their furry companions.

Dillon Dodson, RSW, MSW, Senior Manager, Social Work at Toronto Humane Society, highlights the impact of these difficult decisions on the community. “Surrendering a pet is a distressing experience. It severs the bonds formed with these loyal companions and leaves families (and their pets) devastated,” says Dodson. “At Toronto Humane Society, we understand the importance of keeping families together.”

The organization is dedicated to offering a lifeline to families facing these challenges through community-oriented programming. The Urgent Care program provides temporary foster care to pets whose families are experiencing hardships such as housing insecurity, unexpected illness and/ or family violence. Not only wanting to assist the animals, clinical social workers also assist the families themselves in crisis planning and connecting to social service organizations to ensure a wholistic approach to family wellness. Once circumstances improve the organization reunites the pet with their family.

The Pet Food Bank, another integral part of Toronto Humane Society’s community initiatives, ensures that no pet goes hungry due to financial constraints. By providing access to pet food, the organization helps alleviate some of the financial burdens on pet guardians. The charity also offers a monthly Community Day event where those in need can access free pet food and pet supplies such as bedding, crates, toys and more.

For 136 years, Toronto Humane Society has remained committed to improving the lives of both pets and their families. Their community programs are a testament to this commitment, aimed at reducing the number of pets surrendered and ensuring that families have the resources they need and deserve so they do not have to face the heartbreaking decision to part with their beloved companions.

By offering support through community programs the organization plays a crucial role in ensuring that the bond between families and their pets remains unbroken, even in the face of adversity.

Toronto Humane Society in Action

Toronto Humane Society is not only sounding the alarm on the crisis but is actively working to find solutions. In light of the growing concerns for animal welfare in Toronto, the charity has expanded their Urgent Care program. Between January and October 2023, Toronto Humane Society enrolled 134 animals into temporary foster programs. The organization has so far reunited 82 of those animals with their families this year.

For further information and to learn more about the Toronto Humane Society’s community programs, please visit

To learn more about the organization’s “A City in Crisis” series or to make a generous donation please visit

About Toronto Humane Society

Toronto Humane Society’s mission is to improve the lives of animals. The organization excels in all ways an animal shelter should, with industry-leading shelter care, veterinary services, animal training and behaviour consultations. Toronto Humane Society believes in the importance of the human-animal bond, finds new homes for thousands of animals and helps keep families together.

Toronto Humane Society is more than an animal shelter. They are an educational resource and support system, a leading voice in animal welfare and accessible care. The organization is also a centre of excellence, a space where best practices and boundary-pushing knowledge meet with unyielding optimism and a love for animals to create something special. Toronto Humane Society is like no other. For more information, visit

For more information, or to arrange an interview please contact Lucas Solowey at or call 416-392-2273 ext. 2196