(c) 2013 Jean Ballard, used with permission.
By Jean Ballard. I have been struggling to write this post for over a week now. I have considered all kinds of approaches – from the mundane to the sensational, from the appealing to the appalling. And then, last night, the poster below appeared on facebook, courtesy of a shelter in Saskatchewan:
Yes. We Canadians kill dogs.
And we need to advertise it more. More loudly. More sensationally. More appallingly.
Because it seems that an awful lot of good-hearted, dog-loving people involved in animal ‘rescue’ don’t get it. Instead, they import dogs to Canada from Taiwan, from India, from Mexico, from Greece, from China, from every friggin’ country out there. They even import, by the hundreds, dogs from the United States — one of the wealthiest, most educated, and most powerful nations in the world!
They do it with sensational media headlines, television cameras running, frantic pleas sent out via facebook for money, for fosters, for adopters. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Canadian dogs languish in shelters month after month, or are shot in annual culls across northern Canada, or are euthanized by the animal control facilities charged with their care and protection. And no one seems to give a damn. Certainly not the importers bringing truckloads of needy dogs into the country.
“Compassion knows no borders” they parrot. That was the response I received from the Puerto Vallerta SPCA when I asked, on their facebook page, whether their practice of exporting dogs to rescues in Alberta was supported and condoned by the Alberta SPCA. That was the response I received when I talked to a person involved in importing dogs from Thailand to my area, when I pointed out how long some dogs have been sitting in our shelters. That was the response I see parrotted everywhere that anyone dares to question why dogs of every shape and size, every breed and age, are being imported to Canada. “Compassion knows no borders”.
Don’t get me wrong: global compassion is a good thing. But organizations and individuals wanting to help address the horrific conditions some animals face in other nations need to take a page from organizations like Save the Children or World Vision, organizations which help address the horrific conditions some children face in other nations. They do it by assisting the children, families, and communities to become self-sustaining. They don’t bring plane loads of malnourished, ill, homeless and dying children to Canada; they work within those cultures to help develop systems that work. Sometimes working with just one child at a time, sometimes with one family at a time, sometimes with one community at a time, they slowly but noticeably make a difference.
Helping those in need within their own cultures provides a real solution, not merely a finger in the dike. “Give a [community] a fish, and you feed it for a day; teach a [community] to fish, and you feed it for a lifetime.” And that is true whether the community is human or canine.
Over the next few days, interspersed with some of my regular posts of my dogs, hikes and photos, I will elaborate on this topic with some anecdotes, stats and problems that I hope will provide food for thought if you are considering adopting an imported dog or supporting a ‘rescue’ that does so.
Editor’s note: Jean has posted part two in her excellent, thought provoking series and it can be found here.
Jean Ballard has been involved with animal rescue at the community level for about ten years, and
currently does home checks, transportation and occasional fostering for ethical, local rescue groups on Vancouver Island.
Jean’s Blog: http://mylifewiththecritters.blogspot.com