L.A. Shelter Dogs Transported to Canada: Rescue or Ruse?

“Vancouver group saves hundreds of California dogs from death.” declares a Vancouver Sun headline on January 14, 2011. The article explains that A Better Life Dog Rescue has brought about 200 dogs into Canada, mainly from Los Angeles shelters, for placement in the Lower Mainland. Los Angeles Animal Services General Manager Brenda Barnette is quoted in the article.

Most are small dogs, some purebreds; and they are driven in the backs of trucks, with sometimes as many as 100 dogs per trip being dropped off at other rescue locations along the route, the article reports. And, every two months dogs destined for British Colombia are driven up to Seattle, where volunteers bring up to 19 at a time across the border. http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Vancouver+group+saves+California+dogs+f..

A Better Life Dog Rescue in B.C. seems to have very responsible protocol for adoptions, including house checks and adoption trial periods. http://www.adoptapet.com/adoption_rescue/73257.html

It is wonderful that homeless Los Angeles animals are finding “forever” homes, but bewildering that there is such a deficit in homeless Canadian dogs that small, stressed Los Angeles shelter animals need to make a frightening, grueling 1,100-mile road trip in the back of a truck, especially when there are so many media pleas for help with Canada’s growing pet overpopulation. 

A recent query on Yahoo from someone in Vancouver asked, “because [it’s] too expensive to buy one in pet store, [are there] any low price breeders in Vancouver? I am looking for an old english sheepdog or a labrador retriever.” The response was, “Labradors are a dime a dozen at any humane society. Olde English Sheepdogs, too, are very easy to find. The only low priced breeder you’re going to find for any breed, BYBs. That’s backyard breeder. And NEVER buy your puppies from pet stores  If you’re looking for a cheap dog, then go to a humane society.” That sounds like exactly the answer you’d get in dog-overpopulated Los Angeles!

To help with Canadian adoptions, Canada’s Guide to Dogs lists over 100 rescue organizations and invites others to join online. http://www.canadasguidetodogs.com/onrescue.htm

One such effort is Rescuing Dogs in Canada (RDIC), a transportation network created by animal control officer Kathy Juneault. A heart-wrenching article, entitled, “Rescuing dogs in Canada” states, “What started with 32 members has now grown to 230 throughout Canada, about half of which are rescue groups. All dogs in need of rescue must be within Canada..”  http://www.dogsincanada.com/rescuing-dogs-in-canada

Should homeless pets be transferred to other adoption locations?

Certainly there are good reasons to move impounded dogs to locations where they have a better chance for a home; and most shelters have done this historically if they have more than one facility or there is another local shelter or humane society where the animal has a greater opportunity for adoption. For instance, large dogs impounded in Los Angeles’ densely populated inner-city shelters are routinely transferred to a city Valley shelter, where many properties are larger and big dogs are more in demand.

But in the post-Katrina era, rescued-animal transport has become increasingly popular and expanded. Homeless pets are moved from FL to Maine, from GA to New England and from San Francisco to NY. Some of the transport companies seem highly reputable and list strict standards regarding the physical and travel conditions for the animals. No one can deny the wisdom of moving over-bred dogs from states with rampant puppy mill and breeding operations to locations where willing and responsible homes will adopt and love them.  


However, in regard to shelter animals, this also begs the question, are we really solving the problem or merely moving it around? Does making the problem less visible in a pet-overpopulated community by (temporarily) emptying a shelter by transport lessen the impetus to demand more responsibility from pet owners?  Does it also reduce pressure on politicians to better fund spay/neuter, curtail breeding, and support strict enforcement of animal-care laws?

Does transport guarantee “No Kill?”

There have been mounting concerns over animal transports from Los Angeles City shelters, which are being pushed by political forces to become “No Kill” and thus face serious and dangerous overcrowding. (Small humane societies and private rescues have the right to selectively admit only adoptable dogs, while government-funded municipal shelters have “open-door” policies, which mandate accepting all animals in need.) Local “no-kill” proponents maintain that City shelters should not euthanize animals to maintain humane conditions. http://www.opposingviews.com/i/living-with-the-failure-of-no-kill

Questions are also arising as to who is tracking the dogs that are being transported to Canada and elsewhere? Is this a ruse to try to appear “no kill”? Once the pets are gone, does the releasing agency demand to see records of what happened to them? Not at Los Angeles Animal Services. 

New L.A. Animal Services General Manager Brenda Barnette was the former head of the Seattle Humane Society which, while she was there, received small dogs transported from Los Angeles city shelters and benefited from the fact that spays, neuters and vaccination costs are all covered by the City’s tax-supported spay/neuter fund designated to provide low-cost and free spays and neuters for financially challenged pet owners in Los Angeles.

Although Seattle Humane charged up to $275 per dog upon adoption, there was no reimbursement to Los Angeles. Reportedly, Seattle Humane Society has still been receiving dogs from Los Angeles City shelters under this program, loaded in to the back of a truck and driven by volunteers to their facility. That practice of loading animals into the back of trucks and vans in plastic carriers has also prevailed in L.A. Animal Services transports to other cities.  In some cases, transport may be provided by a donor organization.

A YouTube video recently raised serious concerns when it showed animals directly from Los Angeles Animal Services (with papers from specific shelter shown on the film) being unloaded in Canada from air transport and offered immediately by a Los Angeles-based rescue group conducting an event in a well-known pet supply chain store. The small dogs were sold for $400 cash each, without even an application or I.D. by adopters required. (The names of the organizations and store are purposely not listed here because all have done and are doing very responsible work for animals in the U.S. The video, however, emphasizes the inability to control the actions of someone outside the country.)

What impact does importing homeless dogs from the U.S. have on Canada?

The questions about transport to Canada are not just to determine the quality of the rescue organization, but also about the impact that importing dogs will have on Canadian pet overpopulation. Not all the animals are small, desirable dogs. Many included in transport are older and nondescript mixed breeds. Why wouldn’t a Canadian rescue group save dogs from its own area to lower the euthanasia rate, rather than bring in foreign dogs that will take up available adoptive homes?

In the past few years there have been alarming reports of numbers of Pit Bulls taken to organizations in Canada. Canada does not seem to have a shortage of Pitties. In fact, Ontario has banned pit bulls, and concerns over dog fighting operations increase throughout the country. So what is happening to these difficult-to-place dogs that are brought in and left with the assurance to U.S. rescuers that “they are all finding  homes”? http://www.shortnews.com/start.cfm?id=49888   http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Online+point+dogfighting+rings+Calga..

Different legal outlooks on animals in Canada.

Despite growing opposition to pound seizure, Animal Alliance of Canada states, “Canadian research facilities can still access lost pets for use in experimentation. In 2007, 9,175 lost and abandoned dogs and cats were used in labs across Canada.”

According to Animal Alliance, pound seizure (releasing shelter animals for research) is still legal in Ontario; and Quebec law remains silent on the issue, so “…contractors supply lost pet animals to research in the absence of any legal requirement to do so.”  In other provinces where the law is silent on the issue of pound seizure but where researchers seek out lost pets, municipalities refuse to supply those pets for experimental purposes.

2007 statistics from the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) show, “…of the 4,243 cats used in experiments, 3,170 came from pounds, a staggering 75%. For the same year, 6,005 or 52% of the 11,483 dogs came from pounds.”  http://www.ccac.ca/en/Publications/New_Facts_Figures/tables_list.htm   http://www.animalalliance.ca/Pound%20Seizure.html

Although it’s not something they’d brag about, and it is undoubtedly a law that in repugnant to most Canadians, there is a difference in Canadian and United States law that may shock most Americans. 

Under Canada's Wildlife Act, there is no law against selling and serving canine meat, including dogs, if it is killed and gutted in front of federal inspectors. http://www.cbc.ca/news/story/2003/11/07/dog_meat031107.html

In a 2002-2006 on-line poll, 33.72% of responders voted “Yes” to the question, “Should Canadians increase their consumption of dog meat?” http://forums.redflagdeals.com/pet-overpopulation-should-we-start-eating-more-dog-cat-canada-296403/2/

Time to start serious follow up on Los Angeles animal-shelter transports?

After months of allowing helpless animals to be crammed into cargo vans and trucks and sent to far-away places, recently GM Brenda Barnette and the L.A. Animal Services Commission admitted there may be a problem and decided that if authorized rescuers take animals from City shelters and hand them off to someone else through transport, they must sign that it is a “no kill” organization.  But they did not add a provision for how that is to be determined or followed up.

Rescue or just moving them around?

So, if shelters and "no kill" grroups  are merely transporting or re-transporting unadopted or unadoptable animals to another facility in another state or country, is this really “RESCUE?”

Or has it become a shell game to avoid being the one that may ultimately have to euthanize the animals that break down under the stress of long-term confinement and/or repeated relocation?

Reading this "article" (better described as an uninformed rant) just stole 5 minutes of my life that I will never get back. There are so many things I want to dispute that I don't know where to start.
First of all, I don't know anyone that would eat dog meat and you are basically saying that 1/3 of my friends would do so. I couldn't even guess where one would find dog meat for sale. Was this a canadian poll? It just says 33.72% of responders said yes.

Rescue groups are generally paying $100-$300 to transport, spay/neuter and vaccinate the rescued dogs. Do you think that after all of this or even just paying the transportation fee that the animal would be put down?

Rescue groups are rescuing dogs that will be adoptable. They are not going in to shelters to take what ever dogs are available at the time.

Rescue groups should be praised for their efforts in trying to rescue dogs from the US and I assure you that although an 1100 mile trip in the back of a van is stressful, it is nothing compared to spending a month in a shelter waiting to die.

Please visit www.dogsindanger.com and look at the state of californias pages upon pages of dogs pictures with "I only have 2 days to live" written beside them. I guarantee that you would never find such a crass website in canada.

Yes, I saw that poll, I was appalled and it was in the Canadian media asking it of Canadians. Comments were there too. Now these rescue groups, they aren't taking advantage of all that money for transports like the Heigl Foundation? Funny, how it is being advertised as sponsored and the transport isn't costing these groups money. Plus it is against the law to transport across state lines without vaccinations. Brenda Barnette found that out the hard way when the state of WA came down on her. http://www.q13fox.com/news/kcpq-091409-californiadogs,0,1367074.story State Investigates Illegal Transfer Of Dogs From California To Bellevue
Investigators say nearly 200 dogs brought to the Seattle Humane Society in the past year did not have rabies vacciations or required health certificates.

So does this mean these groups are breaking the law because they are going from CA to Canada via Washington State. Have you seen the conditions that these dogs are forced to endure on the way? I have. Do you honestly think that the driver stops for potty breaks, water, etc for 30+ dogs? And those pages proclaiming I only have a day to live, that's BS. I pulled a report from one place sending small dogs to Canada and found that in 7 years this shelter had only euthanized less than 50 small dogs. This is BS by those "savior" rescues who could care less about the animals. BTW, how much do the receiving rescues SELL those transported dogs for???

But this is definitely how our Canadian Rescues work


this particular Examiner, I really don't care for. She is extremely biased. And if you think that is true, then maybe you would like to explain this Canadian rescue and their actions, because it ain't the way this Examiner has described. I think she is doing a bit of wishful thinking.


The enemy is not the shelters nor the rescues, transports, etc. It's the uncaring drones that continue to flood the shelters on our taxpayer dime, and dump their pets and their offspring. Sadly, the alternative is to let them die there. I think the dogs would request a chance in Canada, instead. The pressure being put on Brenda to stop these transports has resulted in the deaths of many dogs right here in our own tax paid "kill shelters".

BTW: The supposed no kill shelters in our own backyard aren't doing any better. Humane Society of Ventura County has been pretending to be no-kill for decades. They receive huge grants. However, They have been dumping dogs into Camarillo (high kill) shelter for years. I personally followed the path of a dog that entered thru HSVC doors, stayed there for a few weeks, then was unceremoniously dumped at Camarillo where he was immediately killed.
Humane Society of San Bernardino (located about 2 blocks from San Bernardino city shelter) receives private grants and consistently takes in animals and kills them upon intake. They have no chance what so ever of being adopted.

So, I guess what I'm saying here, is we live in a glass house and shouldn't be throwing stones.

Having spent a great deal of time in Canada and having a Canadian husband, I can also tell you exactly why they don't have the problem of overpopulation that L.A. does. We have a massive hispanic population and they don't. You don't see chihuahuas running loose in the streets of Vancouver like you do in South Central.
And before anyone screams "political incorrectness" I must disclose that I am American of Mexican descent. So pound the PC drum somewhere else.
For those that wonder how any culture can eat dog meat, I hate to break it to you, but, the livestock you consume is receiving the dead carcasses of former pets through rendering. The bodies are collected through the back door in barrels, rendered down to feed livestock. So, cut out the middle man (or cow) and you are consuming them too.

First of all, ALL "No Kill" shelters, not just the one in Ventura let the open door shelters do their dirty work for them. Second, the Humane Society in San Bernardino IS NOT AND NEVER HAS BEEN a shelter. Last Chance for Animals investigated these allegations and found nothing wrong per the Press Enterprise news article. But since this rag of a paper chose to only devote one small paragraph to that information, the incompetent ex-employees were given too much ink and now the world thinks incorrectly about this wonderful Humane Society that has contributed so much to the County of San Bernardino and saves millions of lives. The Humane Society does euthanasia for free to relieve suffering because some people can't afford to pay the vet to do it. The Humane Society is not a rescue, they don't have pets for adoption, they are a low cost spay/neuter clinic and do cruelty investigations. The only pets housed there are from those cruelty investigations. And those pets are adopted out.

And you don't see chihuahuas running the streets in Canada because the weather kills them off. If nothing else, they drown in the snow because it gets deeper than they are tall. If you do the research you will see that there is definitely a problem in Calgary with too many pets. Add up all that come into the city shelter and the surrounding shelters and although the entire providence has a population of only a quarter of LA City, they are handling almost as many pets in shelters just serving the city of Calgary as the entire city of LA does.

I hope none of these animals end up in Guelph shelter. they use a drug called T-61. It is injected in the heart. there are onther shelters in canada that ues this cruel way to kill a dog.It is not used in the USA and Great Britain. if not administered properly a animal suffocates. We need to know where they went to and where they end up. I dont think this was a good idea if there is no follow up on all animals.read up on the T-61 drug and you will see is inhumane to use. i would like to know where ALL the dogs end up. thanks for reading this

We can start healing this problem by looking at the source and creating more stringent requirements for animal care/protection. We can fund well-trained/empowered animal control, humane officers and other law-enforcement officers locally and nationally who not only enforce misdemeanor/felony laws for neglect and cruelty, but also issue hefty citations that recoup the cost of investigation--with the money going directly back to the animal-control agency's budget. Taxpayers should not have to pay for enforcement of minor or non-life threatening violations when citations can be written that are assessed and collected like parking tickets. (This does not preclude criminal charges also.)

Certainly some perpetrators do not have property or resources; but many do! Once the word gets out that it is going to cost you if an officer receives a valid complaint about how you are treating your pet, people will either take better care of their animals or they will not get one.

I would also suggest as a start that anyone who rents out property and allows pets should be held responsible for assuring that no violations of law are taking place (including failure to license) on his/her property. (This is done for other code violations--why not for animal care codes?) That provides another pair of eyes checking that animals are well treated.

We are far too permissive about how long we allow humane violations--poor care or deliberate cruelty--to exist before we take action. Judges are becoming more enlightened and less patient with animal cruelty, and police and other officers are accepting and understanding the link between animal cruelty and human violence.

As a state and as a nation, we can demand the kind of treatment we expect. The unfortunate part is that there are those who benefit financially from not demanding optimal care and training, because this would mean less demand for kittens and puppies now churned out like sausages by breeders and later handed off to a shelter and replaced. That increases the market--which includes pet supplies, food , medications..all the things on which money is spent to maintain a petl.

By the time the anmal is in the shelter, WE have failed it. It is easy to blame the problem on the shelters who become the depositories for what many people consider "living garbage." The shelters are damned if they take in the animals and do what they can with limited budgets (which means some animals will be euthanized because of condition and some because of space.) The shelters are damned if they don't--because then the animals are in the streets, starving, fighting for their lives and endangering communities.

So let's first ask ourselves if, while we are doing all the rescues and adoptions that validate US, are we also taking some time to organize volunteers to walk door to door, talking to uneducated owners, reporting visible or suspected violations to animal control (and following up on the outcome), talking at public meetings and governmental planning/budget sessions, setting up neighborhood-watch systems to empower the community, and handing out information about licensing and spay/neuter? These things keep animals out of the shelter. That's the best place to start, in my opinion.


Breath of fresh air and concrete solutions that can be embraced and obtained.

Animalissu, very well said.