Society tends to view small animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, and rats as disposable. By their very nature, they are vulnerable as pets. Bought for next to nothing, they live relatively short lives and often receive a level of care far below that given to dogs or even cats. These welfare concerns are compounded by the fact that they breed easily, meaning there are many more small animals than there are homes available to keep them.

Because of this, small animals pose a challenge for shelters. Shelters are traditionally built to house dogs and cats and often lack dedicated resources for small animals. Yet, as dog and cat intake continues to decline across the country, an opportunity exists for shelters to step up to address the welfare and overpopulation issues faced by these often-forgotten animals.

This presentation will examine intake and adoption trends for small animals entering shelters across British Columbia, as well as highlight the changes in housing and enrichment that have taken place over the past decade. It will also discuss how improvements to dog and cat welfare through research and advocacy might be applied to small animals.