Up until now, the majority of our efforts to raise awareness about the animal welfare issues impacting companion animals in our province has focused on the needs of animals in remote and northern communities. But it is not only these communities that are facing significant challenges in responding to the needs of abused, abandoned and neglected animals. Rescue organizations are struggling in ways they have not had to in the past decade. We have also faced criticism that we are working against animal rescue and those who are trying to save lives. This could not be farther from the truth. We are trying to save lives, the lives of dogs here in BC that are the biggest victims of this growing and unregulated trend to import dogs en mass from the LA shelters. To help illustrate this, we welcome this guest post by April Fahr, Executive Director of HugABull Advocacy and Rescue Society
Sometimes we encounter a public perception that BC no longer has a homeless animal problem. It’s true that adoption rates are high for “adoptable” dogs – puppies, small breeds, purebreds – to the point that applicants enter “bidding wars” for shelter dogs.
But for pit bulls, or large mixed breeds, or dogs with any degree of behavioural challenge? Make no mistake. There is no shortage of them in our province.
We can keep telling people this, but maybe the best way to make our point is to show people the problem. To step into our shoes for moment. And thus, I’d like to show you the work of our foster reps over the course of one week – the last week of August 2014.
The following dogs were on our waiting list or brought to our attention during this time period:
Chase, young male deteriorating in the shelter, no adoption interest as a result
Ginger, female with patches of skin missing due to OCD/stress behaviour in kennel
Sahali, senior female awaiting foster home and transfer from the Okanagan
Blue, young male awaiting foster home and transfer from the Okanagan
Argus, in Coquitlam shelter, first brought to our attention in the Spring after spending months in the shelter.
Copper, senior female assessed and awaiting foster home
Swan, assessed and awaiting foster home
Rufus, young male, showing stress behaviour in kennel
Brodie, awaiting assessment
Fern, awaiting assessment
Daisy, mastiff mix, extremely stressed in shelter
Bella, puppy requiring experienced home
Kira, young female, assessed and awaiting foster home
Quentin, young male from remote shelter
Bunny, young female in an Ontario shelter
Cocoa, young female awaiting assessment
Tony, young male, awaiting assessment
Arya, young female, assessed and waiting for
Notch, mature male, assessed and awaiting foster home
Mikey, puppy, assessed and awaiting foster home
Remember, these dogs are all in addition to the 25 dogs we currently have in our program. At any time we are limited by the financial resources available and the number of suitable foster homes, so by necessity we need to look at this list and decide which 2-3 we can take. It’s a grueling process and one we have to go through a few times each month.
Many times we can’t adequately test the animal with dogs, cats, or assess for things like separation anxiety or house manners outside of a kennel environment. That means that the dogs need to be moved into experienced and/or animal-free homes, which are the hardest ones to come by, slowing the intake process even further. So what happens? We resign ourselves to the fact that as the dogs wait, they deteriorate. The more they deteriorate, the less likely it is that they will get adopted through the shelter system, and it makes it harder for us to find foster homes for them.
A little more food for thought?
1) HugABull is one of three rescues focusing on BC pit bulls. All three are full with a waiting list. There are many other all-breed rescues that have pit bulls in their care as well. Our experience is not unique.
2) During this same week we received eight unsolicited “owner surrender” emails. These are people who need to re-home their dog and are contacting us in hopes that we might help. While we cannot help directly, we do provide them with advice and referrals to breed-friendly shelters and trainers. But these are even more dogs in need, who are days away from being homeless, euthanized, or surrendered to a shelter.
What happened after that week?
Two of the dogs on that list have been euthanized in the subsequent weeks. In both cases, it was because of escalating kennel stress that made them unadoptable and difficult to find foster homes for. With no other options for them, the kindest thing for the shelter manager to do is to end their suffering.
A couple of the dogs on the list were adopted through the shelter, two were moved into our program, and three have pending foster homes. Most of them remain on the waiting list, more have been added in the meantime, and dozens more are in our shelters.
What can you do? If you have space in your heart for a bully breed, please look to your local shelters and BC-based rescues first. If you are not in a position to foster to adopt (let’s be honest…many of us aren’t!) you can donate your money, your time, or simply help raise awareness.
But most of all, if you ever hear anyone speak as though BC is haven for homeless pit bulls, please educate them otherwise.
Pitties in Need
For more information on HugABull and ways you can support them and pit bull type dogs in BC, visit their website.
A conversation for change
In addition to the devastating impact mass importing is having on animals here in BC, it is also important to understand that this is not an effective way to address the homeless dog over population crisis in LA. To make meaningful and sustainable change, we encourage people to support the good work that is actually being done in LA to save these animals.
Join us on October 4th for a keynote lunch, with Marc Peralta, Executive Director for Best Friends Society, LA and hear about their No Kill Coalition and the work that they are doing with community partners to create a no kill city by 2017.
Click here for more information and to register.