October 24, 2015 1:05 am
Updated: October 24, 2015 3:26 pm

American ‘kill shelter’ dogs get second chance in British Columbia

WATCH: More than 100 dogs rescued from the U.S. will soon arrive in BC, to find their forever homes. But as Nadia Stewart reports, local officials are cautioning anyone who wants to bring one home.


The Vancouver-based animal rescue society Thank Dog I Am Out is preparing for its second ‘mass rescue’ of over 100 American shelter dogs.

“In southern California – on a good day, they might be killing 600 dogs per day. In the state of California, they kill 6,000 dogs per week,” said Susan Patterson, the organization’s founder.

Patterson says that in Los Angeles County alone, dogs 12 pounds and under are being killed at a rate of 20,000 per year.

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In 2014, Patterson used her contacts to get the biggest plane possible to bring dogs to the border, in the first year of the ‘mass rescue’.

“We spayed and neutered them, we vetted them, and we flew them up. We preapproved 170 adopters in British Columbia – which meant reference checks, legally-binding adoption contracts, and home checks.”

This year, she’s partnering up with Clint Eastwood’s daughter – who advocates for the protection of small dogs through her Eastwood Ranch Foundation.

On Nov. 7, over 100 dogs will arrive at YVR and be united with their adopters at Landmark Aviation. This year, more people applied for rescue for dogs from southern ‘kill shelters’ than Patterson’s society could bring in.

Although Patterson does all she can to ensure the best adoption plans for Canadians, Victoria’s Capital Region District (CRD) warns residents to err on the side of caution when considering adopting out of province animals.

“We can’t stress enough about knowing the dog’s history,” said Don Brown, Chief Bylaw and Animal Care Officer at CRD.

Brown admits most shelter dogs are probably fine, but adopting animals without knowing their background is risky. He says that animal adoption protocol in B.C. takes care in ensuring the best match between animal and owner.

“We take the time to spend with the dogs, and to assess them. The kennel staff are trained and knowledgeable on dog behavior. If they anticipate problems with the dog, they won’t adopt the dog out.”

Although adopting dogs from kill shelters could be considered risky, Patterson’s 2014 mass rescue brought joy to many new owners.

For Lauren Webb, the journey to adopt her little ‘Mario’ has not been without obstacles, but it has been well worth it.

“As an adopter of a rescue dog, you have to make sure that you are ready,” she said.

“Honestly, now that we’ve worked through it, it’s the best thing that’s happened to me ever.”

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