“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me…” When poet Emma Lazarus wrote the words now inscribed on the pedestal of the U.S. Statue of Liberty, little did she imagine they might apply to our furry four-legged friends leaving the country.
Last week, the dog-loving Maritime communities of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia answered the call from international non-profit organization Animal Rescue Corps to accept the delivery of more than 100 dogs and cats from California on the ‘Sunshine to Maritime Transport’.
A group of Maritime pet rescue operations: Atlantic Small Dog Rescue, Cat Action Team, DunRoamin’ Stray and Rescue, East Coast German Shepherd Rescue, Maritime Pit Project, along with The Friends of Palm Springs Animal Shelter teamed up to help alleviate extensive shelter overcrowding in California.
The first transport of nearly 50 dogs arrived last week, and caused many Canadians to wonder why the U.S. is not looking after their own, and why Canadians would be taking in U.S. strays when there are so many dogs awaiting adoption in Canadian shelters.
Citizens of the world
Joan Sinden of Atlantic Small Dog Rescue and new pet parent to animal refugee Diego took to her blog to address the question: “Bringing in animals from away is not something new to Nova Scotia – several rescues do it regularly, and a couple local rescues exist for no other reason. So bringing dogs here from away is not something new and novel – this current shipment is simply getting the most press.”
The extra press is a good thing says Sinden as the attention encourages pet adoption – regardless of ‘citizenship’. She also noted that when Nova Scotia legislation ended the sale of puppies, there was a shortage of small dogs available for adoption, causing some people to go the wrong places, like backyard breeders out to make a quick buck.
Most of the dogs in the U.S. shipment were small dogs, however, the reason for the whole campaign was to find homes for a group of larger dogs rescued from the home of one California pet hoarder. Sinden’s understanding is that the addition of small dogs helped “sweeten the deal” and, at the same time, alleviate overcrowding at the California shelter.
Overpopulation is a killer
At the heart of the issue is pet owners who don’t get their pet spayed or neutered: Nearly four million dogs and cats are euthanized in U.S. animal shelters every year – that’s half of all dogs and nearly seven in 10 cats entering shelters are destroyed, according to the FixIt Foundation.
Providing low cost procedures has become a significant step to reducing the rate of euthanasia, but the numbers still need improvement obviously. Roaming the U.S., there are more than a million cats and two million dogs that have not been fixed.
The foundation notes that the average cat and its offspring have “the potential to produce 17 cats in two years, 55 in three years, 175 in four years until the number reaches over 5,000 at seven years,…”
To find a low-cost spay-neuter clinic near you, visit Get Your Fix, which also provides a free service that introduces pet owners in need to sponsors who want to help by funding a spay-neuter surgery.