Today, like any given day during the year, there are people doing what they can to improve the lives of others and enrich their community. Work is continually being done in every small village and every large city by people who just want to make a difference and give something of themselves. This weekend I dropped into the Curl Moncton facility to witness the turnout for an event being hosted by the Greater Moncton SPCA.  The annual curling event is one of the year’s biggest fundraisers for the GMSPCA, and the folks involved in organizing and running this event are passionate about improving the lives of homeless pets in our region. As anyone who works in animal rescue will attest, the job is never done.  You don’t turn off the lights and lock the doors at the end of the day.  Animals are in need 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Meeting these needs requires endless amounts of work.  It also requires money – lots of it!  I was fortunate to get to speak with Dave Rogers (Executive Director for GMSPCA) and Nanette Pearl (Director of Animal Welfare).  I thought I knew a fair bit about the SPCA, but some of the things that they shared astounded me.

The Greater Moncton SPCA is the largest shelter east of Montreal.  That I knew.  What I didn’t know was that it requires roughly $1,000,000 annually to operate this shelter.  Of that one million dollar operating budget, only $9000 comes from government grants.  The rest, nearly $1,000,000 annually, comes from public donations and fundraising initiatives.  That is A LOT of money needed each and every year.  Raising funds is a daunting and never-ending task.  In addition to the curling event, the GMSPCA also relies on income from other annual events that they host such as the Spring Yard Sale and The Dog Jog held in the fall. I’ll take the time here to give a nod to the generous sponsors who contribute to make these special events a success: Tom Cormier & Associates – The Cooperators, Advocate Printing, Argus Hearing Centre, Vito’s, Armour Transport, Van Houtte, and Fancy Pocket.

Tom Cormier & Assoc - The Cooperators
   Tom Cormier & Assoc – The Cooperators

It is hoped that a new program launched in 2016 will in time help to secure a reliable monthly income.  The PAW Plan is a Pre-Authorized Withdrawal plan for donations. It is a monthly contribution that is deducted from the donor’s bank account or charged to a credit card. Tax receipts are issued for the full contribution.  By knowing how much money will be coming in each month, the GMSPCA is able to plan ahead, care for more animals, and spend less on administrative costs. If you are able to contribute a small amount monthly, this could be the perfect program for you. If every person in Moncton gave $1.00 the shelter’s veterinary bills for the year would be covered.  Please consider giving if you are able.  Look into the PAW Plan (www.monctonspca.ca/paw-plan) if monthly giving sounds appealing, or check out the many other options available to help (www.monctonspca.ca/you-can-help).

I’m sure that most people have no idea what it costs, not only to operate a shelter facility, but also to care for the animals themselves.  Here is just a sampling of costs that you might find surprising:

  • During the winter, heating costs equal as much as $6,800 per month.
  • The shelter goes through 200 pounds of cat litter EVERY day. Not only does the shelter have to purchase the litter, they also have to pay a waste management company to dispose of it.
  • The GMSPCA needs to replace a washer and dryer every two months. They launder 100-150 blankets and sheets per day.
  • The shelter uses 80 pounds of dog food per day.
  • The adoption fee for a cat is $90, but on average it costs the shelter $250 to care for the cat and prepare it for adoption.
  • Every day, 6-10 new animals some into the care of the GMSPCA (2,200-3,700 per year). Each of these animals requires veterinary care, food, and general care. The adoption fees do not begin to cover expenses.
  • Staffing costs, insurance, building maintenance, and cost of utilities are all substantial when running a facility that must operate 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.

There is a charity called the SPCA Foundation Fund that provides additional funds to the shelter on an as-needed basis.  This charity runs Bingo two nights per week, and the profits are held and administered separately from the GMSPCA.  If the financial situation becomes particularly challenging during any one period, the GMSPCA can apply to use some of these funds to cover critical expenses.  Mr. Rogers describes this charity as a “second sober thought”, which ensures that only finds that are truly needed are provided.  This provides a much needed security net for an organization that has such demand on its finances each and every month.

Mahatma Gandhi said “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” The Greater Moncton SPCA is just one of many shelters and rescues that are striving to save lives and make a difference.   All that I have outlined here provides only a glimpse into what is required to run an animal shelter, but the difficult work that is tirelessly being done, speaks to the greatness of our citizens. Money will always be needed to continue the work, but without the caring of the people involved, the money would be of little value. 

Peace | Love  | Rescue

Thank you for deciding to add a rescued dog to your family.  Now that you’ve made this wonderful decision, how do you go about finding a dog that is the perfect match for you? If you know the answer to that question, you probably won’t need to read this post.  If; however, you are new to the world of rescue, or if you live in an area where there are not many dogs in shelters, you may welcome some suggestions.

To begin, you should give some thought to what size and type of dog is best suited to your lifestyle. Are you an experienced dog owner that can handle the training requirements of a large or rambunctious young dog, or would a more mellow personality be more your speed? Do you lead an active lifestyle and yearn for a running/hiking/adventuring partner? Would you prefer a pooch that would be content to cuddle on the couch? Do you own your own home with a yard, or do you live in a small apartment? Are there children in your household? The answers to these questions can help you to narrow your search.

You might also give some thought to what the ideal kind of dog looks like to you; short-haired versus long and fuzzy coat, floppy ears versus ears that stand up. While some people are very “breed attached”, I do caution you from being too tied to just what a dog looks like.  While you may be drawn to a certain look, the “perfect dog” for you may actually look much different than what you picture in your mind as you begin your search.  I love poodles, I love everything about them, and yes, I am certainly breed attached. When I began my search for a dog I was searching for a female poodle.  What I ended up with was a male terrier/poodle mix (or that is the best guess).  Casper certainly is more terrier than poodle with respect to looks and temperament, but he is a perfect fit for my family (which does also have a poodle in it).  My point is, have an idea of what you’d like, but don’t be so specific with your criteria that you miss finding your “Casper”.

Okay, you’ve got an idea of what type of dog you are searching for.  Now comes what can be a more lengthy process than what you might expect.  In some areas of North America there are many dogs available for adoption every day.  In other areas, there are many fewer choices when you are looking to adopt a rescued dog.  Where I live, in Moncton, NB, the local SPCA is the largest shelter in the region.  At this time of this writing they list on their website only eight dogs that are available for adoption.  Many of these dogs are large dogs that require an experienced handler.  While there are exceptions – my Casper was adopted from the Greater Moncton SPCA – large dogs are the norm. Regardless of where you live, you should be prepared to do a little research, and be patient, so that you take home the dog that will be a member of your family for the rest of its life.

There is a difference between adopting from a shelter and adopting from a rescue organization.  Dogs are dogs – they are the same regardless of where they are found.  The difference lies in what you will know about the dog at the time you adopt.   As a rule, rescue organizations know the dogs that they have available for adoption quite well.  They may have taken the dog in from someone looking to re-home their pet, saved a stray from the street, or pulled a dog from a shelter where it was at risk of being destroyed.  Many rescues do not have a physical shelter facility, but foster their dogs with families who are part of their network.  In doing so, the foster family gets to know all about the dog, its personality, its quirks, its energy level, and how it interacts with other dogs, cats, children, and strangers.  This is invaluable information for an adopter to have.  The other huge benefit is that when adopting from a rescue organization, the vetting has already been done.  Medical needs, including spay or neuter provided the dog is old enough, have already been taken care of.  Now…I acknowledge that I am generalizing here.  For example, the Greater Moncton SPCA, a shelter, had taken care of all of Casper’s extensive medical needs prior to listing him for adoption, and they had done a comprehensive behavioral assessment on him as well. The Greater Moncton SPCA does a great job.  I do not believe that most shelters in the US, and perhaps even those in the bigger centres in Canada, are able to provide this kind of service.  Most rescues strive to ensure that the dogs in their care are adopted into forever homes, and as such do their best to get to know their dogs and screen potential applicants to ensure the best fit.  This is not to say that you shouldn’t be willing to adopt directly from a shelter regardless of where you live, or what kind of care they provide.  The dog is stuck there through no fault of its own, and I personally would adopt from a shelter in a heartbeat with no hesitation.  If; however, you need lots of information, and some form of assurance that the dog will be what you expect, I’d suggest you work with a rescue organization.

In large urban areas, there are many rescue organizations.  Even smaller, rural areas have some.  Where I live, rescues bring in dogs from areas that have high euthanasia rates in shelters.  The southern US has many high-kill shelters where dogs have only a few days to get adopted before they are killed.  Some shelters kill over 90% of dogs that come through their doors.  Rescue organizations in the northern US and Canada do their best to get dogs out of these high-kill shelters and transport them to geographic areas that do not have large numbers of dogs available for adoption. I love the work these rescue organizations are doing.  They truly are saving lives.  Every breed imaginable, from purebred to mutts, are pulled from certain death, vetted, and adopted into loving homes.  The reality is that in many areas of Canada, it is tough to find a small dog in a shelter.  These rescues that transport dogs across the border are making it possible for more families to adopt. Some of my favorites in the Maritimes are Save Them All South to North, Canadian Odd Squad Animal Rescue, and Save a Life Canada Animal Rescue Society.

What many people don’t realize when they start their search, is that it isn’t necessarily required that they find a dog already located in their geographic area.  Many transport options exist specifically to move dogs from one area to another. Groups such as Save Them All South to North make all of the transport arrangements; adopters just pay the transport fee, which from Texas to New Brunswick is $175 USD.  Given that adoption fees in the southern US are very low in most cases, the total cost is no more than what it would cost to adopt locally. If you are searching for a dog via the Petfinder.com or AdoptAPet.com websites, the profiles of many dogs will specify if transport options exist.  In some cases, rescues will only adopt to people who are local to their geographic area and the dog’s profile will state as much.  In other cases, if you are willing to pay the transport fee, you can adopt from anywhere. 

I would suggest a multi-faceted approach in your search.  Register a search with AdoptAPet.com.  They will email you when a dog matching your criteria is listed for adoption.  Check Petfinder.com frequently as the dog listed there change daily. Research rescues in your area and follow them on social media so that you’ll know when they are bringing new dogs to your area, or when new dogs are listed for adoption. Visit your local SPCA or shelter regularly. 

One important thing to keep in mind is that some dogs will be adopted very quickly.  Small, young dogs, or desirable breeds such a golden retrievers, are often adopted the same day that they are listed as available.  Most shelters in Canada, and all rescue organizations, require potential adopters to complete an adoption application.  Part of the application includes a list of references that the rescue will contact by phone.  It usually takes several days to complete the review of the application, meaning the “perfect dog” that you see listed may be adopted by someone else while you wait to have your application approved.  For this reason, it is important to submit an adoption application prior to finding a specific dog.  Once you have researched the rescues in your area, or ones that transport to your area, contact them to see if they will accept your application in advance of naming a specific dog that you would like to adopt.  In this way, you are pre-approved to adopt and will not have to wait 2-3 days should your ideal dog be listed for adoption.  Some organizations will not review an application unless you name a specific dog that you are interested in adopting, but this is not the case with most groups. You should also be aware that even if you are approved to adopt a dog, rescues reserve the right to refuse your application for a specific dog.  They have gotten to know the dog, and will look to place it in an environment where it will thrive.  As it should be, their number one priority is the well-being of the dog.

There are many, many, many options available when looking to adopt a rescued dog.  The thing most people find frustrating is that it may take longer than they’d like to find the right one.  I personally don’t think it is a bad thing.  In doing your search, you will no doubt learn new things that may alter your thinking with regard to what dog will best suit your family. You’ll also learn about what goes into rescuing a dog, and you’ll read the life stories of many dogs.  I know from experience how great it feels to know you’ve been the change a dog needed.  The love of a dog that has been saved from a terrible existence is like nothing else.  You’ll hear these stories as you search for your own happy beginning with your new best friend.

Peace | Love  | Rescue

So often, we hear of a plea for help for an abandoned or abused dog, but we seldom hear of the outcome.  I am happy to share that Russ, the puppy that I profiled in my last blog post, is doing exceptionally well.  In the video (link provided below) you can see that he looks like a different dog from the last pictures and video.  He is no longer emaciated, his coat looks sleek and shiny, and his back legs look healthy and strong.  It is amazing what love can do in just one short month.  Russ has also learned to play!

Check out this LINK to the Facebook video posted by Canadian Odd Squad Animal Rescue.

Peace | Love  | Rescue

The universe seeks constantly to achieve balance. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  If the pendulum swings one way, it must always swing back the other way. Despite what we may feel when watching the news, there is always something good to balance the bad that we witness in this world.   Those who work in dog rescue unfortunately all too often witness the worst that humanity has to offer – the heartbreaking results of heartless, unfeeling, and cruel individuals (I have more colourful terms to describe these people, but I’m too much of a lady to share them here). I have no doubt that those on the front lines have witnessed atrocities that leaves their faith in mankind shaken to its core, but, just as each journey begins with a single step, the path to healing for each rescued dog (and indeed the rescuers themselves) begins with the efforts of kind, generous, hardworking, and endlessly loving individuals.

I am going to share with you the story of one dog. It is a story that is still being written, but it is one that illustrates how dog rescue shines a light on both the worst and the best of humanity.  Russ is a six month old puppy from Texas. Though stillRuss1 a very young dog, poor Russ has suffered far more than any dog should ever have to endure. Do I know the details? No, I don’t. Russ isn’t talking. His physical and mental state speaks volumes however.  The day after he left Texas aboard a transport headed for Canada, I spoke with the lady who was caring for him in the south. I was told that he was very scared and would cry if she reached for him as if he was going to be beaten.  She said he was very thin and needed a lot of love. Well, that’s not good, but we soon learned that it was worse than first thought.  The good folks at an organization called Save Them All South to North arranged for transport for Russ from Texas to Canada.  The transport arrives in Calais, Maine, USA, and then dogs are transported to their forever home, or, in this case, a foster home. As Russ arrived just days before Christmas, foster homes are tough to come by, and so another dedicated rescue organization stepped up to the plate to assist.  Canadian Odd Squad Animal Rescue, based in Nova Scotia, Canada provided a foster home for Russ. When he was delivered to their care, warning bells went off and he was seen by their veterinarian at the earliest opportunity.  Allison from Canadian Odd Squad shared this account of his health with me. “Russ came to us with tape and round worm, Coccidia, an ear infection, Demodex Mange, and a bacterial skin infection. The vet was also concerned about his bone development due to his severe emaciated state.  He had a plantigrade stance, and they were afraid he may need surgery to fix this.  The vetRuss2 felt that Russ had spent most of his short life neglected in a tiny cage. Russ is only 6 months old – this absolutely broke our hearts! Russ was very timid, would spend his time hiding in his crate, and would not eat in front of anyone.  For days he would only come out of his crate at night when everyone was in bed.  Russ did not know how to play, and really didn’t even know what to do with other dogs.”

Is this the worst case of neglect we’ve ever heard? Sadly, not even close.  That doesn’t mean that it isn’t terrible.  Little Russ has suffered pain, fear, anxiety, loss of mobility, and hunger.  Some of these wounds heal more easily than others, but thankfully, the cruelty and neglect that led to his poor state, have now been balanced by the love, kindness, and dedication of many folks who are trying to even the score on his behalf. 

What now for Russ?  Allison shared this current update. “When Russ arrived in Canada he weighed 9.8 kg – at his last vet visit this week he weighed an amazing 14.25 kg.  That is an amazing gain in just 3 short weeks.  Russ had a full blood panel, a skin scrape, fecal test and x-rays completed.  Based on X-rays and how far he has come, the vet feels that with supplements, more weight gain, and exercise his legs will fix themselves. With a lot of patience, love, and understanding Russ has started to really come out of his shell.  He enjoyed playing with his temporary foster siblings, and became very trusting of his temporary foster Mama.  He would go for drives without hesitation, and take food right out of her hand.  Russ is currently settling into a new foster home, as he is no longer contagious, and has  to learn to trust more than just one person.  He has already made fast friends with one of his new foster fur siblings, and given time will learn to trust others again. We are confident that he will come out of his shell and find his best forever possible.”

The ancients say, “The man who enjoys well can also be subject to great suffering.  The man who feels little pain is capable of feeling but little joy.” Perhaps this explains why dogs that have been rescued from deplorable circumstances seem to feel such pure joy at being saved, and show such love for those who rescue and adopt them. They have felt the misery to put joy into its rightful perspective.  In his corner, Russ has had his rescuer(s) in Texas, the folks who make up the Save Them All South to North organization, the Canadian Odd Squad Animal Rescue, the dedicated foster who opened her heart and home to Russ at Christmas, the staff at the Amherst Veterinary Clinic, the individuals who donated funds to pay off the substantial medical bill that Russ accrued (several vet visits, multiple medications, x-rays, and other tests), the local business in Amherst, NS (Greco Pizza) that had a fundraiser to help with veterinary costs, and the many people who shared his story via social media.  Now he has a new foster family, and one day soon someone will have the honour of adding him to their family permanently. Yeah, that is quite a few people working to balance the evil of possibly just one person, but the fact is that those people are here, every day, working to make the world a better place for the sweet souls that can’t fend for themselves.  What a wonderful place we live in – one whose people place that much value on the life and well-being, of one little puppy from Texas. One sweet, little Russ. Score one for the good guys!

p.s.
Russ will be available for adoption in the coming weeks. If you wish to make inquiries, you may do so through OddSquadRescue.com using the contact link on their website, or send an email to allison@oddquadrescue.com . To view a sweet video of Russ, please click HERE!

Peace | Love  | Rescue

We’ve probably all felt it…the sense that a problem is so big that there can’t possibly be a way to “fix it”.  This daunting feeling causes many of us to feel overwhelmed, and we choose to walk away from a fight that we see no way of winning. While it may be true that no single solution exists to solve a large, and multi-faceted, problem, it may just be that the “fix” lies in many unique approaches applied by individuals, or small groups, each working to eliminate a specific part of the larger problem.

One such solution was recently reported by Kyra Gurney of the Miami Herald. In her article, Ms. Burney describes a high school veterinary science program that is saving unwanted dogs in a local area shelter.  Dogs in shelters are destroyed for a variety of reasons.  One reason is that they may have behavioural issues that make them difficult to rehome. The goal of this high school program was to remove dogs with behavioural problems from the shelter environment, and correct the unwanted behaviour so that they had a better chance of being adopted into a loving home.  Force-free training is a technique that uses positive reinforcement, like treats, to shape dog behaviour.

The high school has partnered with a local Miami-based shelter to bring dogs directly from the shelter to the high school. The six dogs taken from the shelter last  semester lived in kennels attached to the classroom and played in an outdoor area behind the school. For 10 weeks, students trained the animals, coming in early every day to check on the dogs before class and working with them in whatever time they could during the day between classes, homework and their other obligations. On weekends and during their veterinary science class, they worked intensely on the behavioural training.

The students documented the dogs’ transformation, posting pictures and videos on a Facebook page for prospective families. By the end of the semester, the students had found homes for all of the animals. Another six dogs will be chosen by the students in January, and the training will begin again.

Critics might suggest that saving “only six” dogs out of the millions currently living in shelters isn’t making a difference.  Try telling that to the six dogs that are now in loving homes.  Try telling that to the six dogs that have just been pulled from the shelter to spend the next ten weeks with a class of students dedicated to their care and training, and ready to shower them with love and affection.  Every life counts!

“Saving one dog may not change the world, but to that one dog surely the world will change forever.”

I applaud the teacher, the veterinarian, the shelter, the school, and the awesome students that are changing the lives of the dogs that they choose for their program each semester. Do their efforts alone solve the problem that sees enormous numbers of dogs living and dying each day in shelters? No, but IT IS making a difference.  If we all did as much as what these folks are doing (each of us in our own way with our own ideas) the problem would be eliminated. The issue isn’t that the problem is too big; it is that we are so fixated on solving the entire problem with one broad sweeping stroke that we fail to do just what we can in our own little corner of the world.

Do just what you can – it will be enough!

Peace | Love  | Rescue

The holiday season is upon us, and regardless of what you celebrate this time of year, many of us look to help those less fortunate when the season rolls around each December.  Not that help isn’t needed all year round, but, for many of us, the cold weather and Peace On Earth goodwill spurs us into action.

Short of adopting, there are many things that you can do to help the many homeless pets in your area.

  • Donate supplies to a local rescue. As the weather turns colder, many animals in shelters are in need of warm blankets and beds to keep them off cold concrete floors. Supplies such as latex gloves, bleach, and food are always in need. Some shelters will post requested items on their Facebook or webpages. Sometimes donations of special veterinary food are requested for a dog with specific dietary needs.
  • Volunteer to walk dogs at a shelter. We all know how busy the holidays can be, and numbers of volunteers may drop off during this time.  Dogs are much better able to handle their time in shelters if they are provided regular exercise and time out of a kennel. Regular opportunity to socialize is also very important to maintain emotional health and calm temperament.
  • Participate in fundraisers. My local SPCA operates a gift wrapping station at the mall for the month leading up to Christmas.  Make use of services such as this, and leave a nice donation for the animals in their care.
  • When shopping for the person who has everything (and we all have someone like that on our list), sponsor a dog at your local rescue or shelter. A certificate will be provided to you to pass on to your loved-one to say that a donation has been made in their name, and you get to help save a precious life.
  • Consider fostering a dog over the holidays. Depending on where you live, and the resources available to shelters and rescues, there may be fewer regular volunteers to help with caring for animals during the holidays.  During festive times, families may be less likely to be able to care for dogs in their homes.  Many rescues do not have a shelter facility, and rely solely on fosters to care for the dogs that they save. If you can welcome a dog into your life for a few weeks, you will not only have the joy of canine companionship, you will know that you are actually saving a life. Most fosters are not required to pay for food or supplies, those costs are covered by the rescue or organization.
  • Share adoption profiles on social media. Someone you know may be looking for the perfect pet, and you may inadvertently find it for them.
  • Offer to transport animals for s shelter or rescue organization. Some organizations may have difficulty getting animals to and from vet appointments, to other rescue organizations, or delivered to potential adopters. If you have a vehicle, and a valid driving license, you can help a pet in need.
  • Donate your professional services – your skills may be of use to a rescue organization or shelter. Lawyers, accountants, handymen (and handy-women), dog trainers, groomers, photographers, social media experts, web developers, etc., etc., etc. can all provide valuable services to shelters.  By donating some of your time, money is freed up to care for more animals.
  • Fund-raise, or gather donations. A good friend of mine used to host a large party every December.  Guests were asked to bring a donation for a local animal shelter (food, dog toys, etc.).
  • Get creative. Any idea that you have that can benefit local homeless animals is likely to be welcomed by shelters and rescues in your community.  Share your ideas, and share the knowledge that you have about animals in need of homes with anyone who will listen.

Adopting a dog as a gift for someone else is often not a good idea, and adding a pet to your family during the holidays requires thoughtful planning, and should not be done on a whim.  BUT…if you are ready to adopt, what better gift to give a dog than the gift of family!

Peace | Love  | Rescue

Regardless of age, all dogs deserving a loving home.  Many of us; however, think only of puppies or young dogs when we consider adding a pet to our family.  While it is impossible to resist the charms of a fuzzy, wiggly little puppy, older dogs add just as much joy to your life.  One look into the eyes of a senior dog that you have saved from the noise and chaos of a shelter will tell you everything you need to know – you are their hero, and have earned their devotion.

A dog is considered to be senior after age seven, but for many breeds they still have many years yet to live and be loved. While it is true that older pets may bring with them age-related health concerns, and they may not be with you as long as a young dog might be, adopting an older dog also has advantages.

  • Older dogs have already reached their full adult size, thus eliminating the question of how big they will get. It is also easier to more accurately assess temperament in an older dog.
  • Senior dogs have likely already lived within a household and thus are house-trained and know basic manners (note: many shelter dogs of all ages may temporarily slip-up on house-training when first adopted due to the stress of shelter life and the re-homing process, but they will quickly get the hang of it again once they settle into a new routine in your home).
  • Senior dogs are less hyper, and require less stimulation and exercise than a puppy. While most still want and require daily exercise, they are more content to cuddle and just spend time with you than their younger counterparts.
  • Senior dogs at shelters need a home as much as younger dogs, and, by adopting them, you are most likely saving its life as seniors are among the first to be destroyed.
  • A senior dog may be a good choice for busy people or families with young children since they are less likely to require the constant monitoring and time-consuming training required by puppies.
  • If you happen to be a senior yourself, or know a senior-aged human who would benefit from having a dog, there are many shelters and rescue organizations that have “seniors for seniors” programs.  These programs match senior people with senior dogs, often for greatly discounted adoption fees.  Senior dogs who have reduced exercise needs and who would benefit from a calm home environment are often the perfect match for senior-aged people.

When you are weighing the pros and cons of a young dog versus a senior, please keep in mind that there are no guarantees with any new member of your family. While you don’t know what health problems may arise, or how long an older dog will be with you, the same unknowns exist when adopting a puppy.

My little Casper was already a senior when I adopted him. The shelter estimated his age to be about 9 years. I was advised of his health history, and was informed that some issues may require further action by me.  Despite any potential challenges, his adoption was a wonderful decision on my part, and nothing short of a blessing.  This poor little soul had some very hard times before joining my family.  He looks at me with trust and adoration and my heart just melts. He has also been a wonderful companion for my other beautiful little dog, and I can’t imagine a more perfect situation.

Please consider becoming a hero to the sweet old soul with the grey muzzle waiting behind the kennel door.  You’ll never regret the choice.

Peace | Love  | Rescue

The statistics are staggering.  Every year, the number of dogs admitted to shelters far exceeds the number of people coming forward to adopt.  The result is the killing of literally millions of healthy dogs in North America annually.  The reality is heartbreaking. While I choose to focus primarily on solutions, and to celebrate every positive outcome, and every single life saved, it is important to also face reality.   To that end, this blog post is written to cast a light on the overwhelming numbers relating to homeless dogs in Canada and the United States.

**For the record, euthanasia is defined as the act or practice of killing one who is very sick or injured in order to prevent any more suffering.  What is happening in shelters across North America is not mercy killing, it is not euthanasia.  It is destroying healthy, adoptable dogs for reasons of lack of space or resources to keep them.  Much of the time I am referring to euthanasia so as not to turn away the reader, but I am not kidding myself.

In Canada, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) collects data from humane societies and SPCAs across the country in order to compile national statistics on shelter animals. The most recent report captures data from 2014.  At that time, there were 168 humane societies and SPCAs nationwide, with only 89 organizations providing statistics for the 2014 report. While the data shows that the numbers of homeless animals in Canada are decreasing, the outcome for many dogs is still bleak. Roughly 38,000 dogs were admitted to shelters in 2014. Of these, 42% were adopted, 10% were euthanized, 28% were returned to their owner, and an additional 12% remained in shelters. The data reported actually represents only a fraction of the homeless dogs in Canada as only 52% of CFHS organizations reported, and other organizations such as municipal animal shelters, private shelters, rescue and foster groups were not polled. One could safely assume that the number of dogs destroyed in Canadian shelters each year is at least double the 3,800 cited in the annual report.

The picture in the United States is far different.  As is the case in Canada, it is difficult to get accurate numbers. There is no government institution or animal organization responsible for tabulating national statistics for the protection movement. There are about 13,600 community animal shelters nationwide that are independent. The terms “humane society” and “SPCA” are generic, and shelters using those names are not part of the ASPCA or the Humane Society of the United States, thus there is no requirement for shelter statistics to be reported. The following are national estimates only, and again the data may not accurately represent the reality.

  • Approximately 3.9 million dogs enter animal shelters nationwide every year.
  • Each year, approximately 1.2 million dogs are euthanized
  • Of the dogs entering shelters, approximately 35% are adopted, 31% are euthanized and 26% of dogs who came in as strays are returned to their owner.

Our challenge is to find a way to approach this desperate situation without a sense of desperation.  No doubt, many turn away from the problem for fear of becoming overwhelmed and heartbroken.  The truth is; however, if everybody did something – just one little thing – the situation would be greatly improved.  Have I cried and felt sad after reading posts about dogs losing their lives while still waiting to be adopted and loved?  Yup, I certainly have.  In fact, I have done so today.  But, I’ve also adopted a sweet little dog, given him a loving home, and felt the joy that goes with that.  It also gives me joy to think that I might be able to make a difference in the lives of others, dogs and humans alike, by sharing my passion.  So….here is my call to action for you.   If you are thinking of adding a pet to your family, please consider rescue. Spread the word to friends and family.  Get involved and support local rescues in your neighbourhood.  

Credit: Statistics quoted from the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®)

 

I  was born a dog lover.  My earliest memories are of yearning for a dog.  But, despite that, my parents did not agree to getting a dog until I was 10 years old.  Our family looked after a beautiful, cream-coloured poodle named Taffy for a few days while she was awaiting a new home.  Thus began my love of poodles.  Shortly after our brief stint as dog-sitters, I was told that I could use money I had saved to buy either a TV for my bedroom, or a dog.  Ha! Not much of a decision! Since that turning point in my life, I have been an adoptive mum to three  perfect miniature poodles.  Each of the first two lived to over 16 years of age.  I adored both of them, and was truly heartbroken when I lost them.  I mourn them to this day.  The third, Gracie,  is presently six years old.  All three of my perfect pups came from breeders.  I’ve loved them all, and wouldn’t change a thing about them, or about where they came from. But…

On to turning point #2…

My beautiful little Gracie is  an extremely social little dog, and even though I have  always  thought as myself as a one-dog kind of  girl, I felt it might be best for Gracie to have a canine sibling. I worried that she would be less bonded to me if I had two dogs in the family, but in spite of that  I started to seriously consider  adding  a second  dog to my family. It was  around this same time that I  began to awaken to the plight of dogs in rescue.  I can’t recall exactly what started me down this path, but  more and more I became aware  of the vast need  of so  many millions of dogs awaiting  adoption. I guess the saying “When the student  is ready, the teacher will appear” applies here.  Suddenly, it seemed like everywhere I looked  I was seeing stories  related to  abandoned dogs in need of loving homes.  

I started to search rescue  sites for  a dog to adopt.  I was  looking for a female poodle  who was about two  or three years old.  I searched for  over a year and a half, but never quite found the right fit.  There were dogs that fit what I was looking for, but they  were not living near my geographic location, and, at that time, I wasn’t aware of the transport options that exist.  I thought  that perhaps I was trying to hard to find the “perfect fit” for my family, and  decided to let the perfect dog find me. The universe does work in mysterious ways, and the perfect dog did find me.  In fact, he found his way directly into my heart.  Casper was  rescued by the Greater Moncton SPCA.  He had been mauled by other dogs and left for dead in a ditch.  He was in very poor shape, and was not given  much hope for survival.  Despite this, the GMSPCA decided to take a chance on him and try to save his life.  I fell in love with him from the story of his rescue, donated to his medical care, and followed all of the updates about him. A month later, following much medical care and a necessary surgery, he was ready for adoption.  Well, you can guess the rest.  I didn’t get the young female poodle that I thought I wanted.  I became  an adoptive-mum to a  nine year old, male poodle/terrier mix, with a slew of health challenges.  He is absolutely perfect!!  He is a sweetheart, and he has proven to be the perfect sibling to Gracie.  She too is a sweetheart, and I can’t imagine the situation working out more perfectly.

casper_5     Casper before adoption…

Gracie and Casper two weeks after adoption
Gracie and Casper two weeks after adoption

Do all rescue adoptions work out so perfectly? Probably not, but I’m sure that many do.  I would have never have dreamed how easily a senior dog with significant “baggage” could fit into a new home.  I also did not expect to feel so  honoured to be able to  give a  sweet soul a new start in life.

My hope now is that I can help other families find their perfect fit with a  loving dog in need of a new start.  I believe that every life counts, and that all dogs deserve a gentle  caress, soft words of praise, and a soft, warm place to sleep each night.  They deserve  to know love.

Please  feel free to share your rescue story with me here. 

Peace | Love  | Rescue