Thursday , 23 November 2017

The 37 Husky ‘Rescue’; What started it, What happened, What Went Wrong and Why – by Caroline Ross an on site volunteer


This all started with online posts of “30” dogs, ranging from 1-10 years old who needed homes by Friday (August 5th, 2011) or would be sent to Le Berger Blanc – of course it got people scrambling.

 

The situation:

‘The owner’ (who we shall not name) of these dogs who is a well respected dog trainer and behaviourist was evicted from the house he lived in with his wife (who we will not name) who is ‘breeder’ by their landlord on July 21st, 2011 for not paying rent. When ‘the owner’ got kicked out, he became homeless and is currently camping in the woods near by. He left behind 37 dogs tied to trees in the woods on the adjacent property to where he use to live. These dogs have apparently been living there in that condition since September 2010 (and the city has had many complaints about them). Obviously the new tenants, who have 4 (house) dogs of their own, were not too pleased about what the previous tenant ‘left behind’ – so they took it upon themselves to offer these dogs online for free with the threat of sending them to Le Berger Blanc, claiming they were abandoned. Obviously people reacted – isn’t that what she wanted?

 

The plan:

A rescue named Canine Feline Rescue (CFR) stepped up to help, they were supposed to have organized two transport vehicles and foster homes for all of the dogs (Sounds too good to be true? Well it was). Dee-Ann Gallant saw the post to help via her WEEAC page and showed up, along with 15-20 other volunteers who responsed. Caroline Ross and Sean Bernard who both also happen to work with Eleven Eleven,  went to volunteer their time (not planning on representing Eleven Eleven Animal Rescue) to help get the dogs into the transport vehicles. Seeing as these dogs were tied and abandoned (as we were lead to believe) to trees, we wanted to help get them safe. If a rescue had everything set up for them, the least we could do was lend a hand.

 

The conditions of the dogs:

We originally were told there was 30 dogs, once we finished our head count there was 37 total. Each dog was chained to a tree with a short chain, no trace of food, or water in sight. All the dogs were very anxious, barking, overly excited to see humans, many had run around their chains so much deep circular tracks in the dirt were left behind. Many of the dogs, were in good health but many were also skin and bones under all the fluff and fur while others had obvious health issues. Most of these dogs were very friendly, social and just dying to have human contact. It looked very well like a case of abandonment – as stated on the online article.

 

The twist:

It turned out that the owner had not abandoned his dogs, and was actually going regularly to feed and water them (although some were still very thin). He even said that he use to keep the dogs on raw food diets as it was the best for them, but had recently switched them to a wall-mart brand when he became homeless. The SQ, MAPAQ and the SPCA had all responded to the same add that made us aware of the situation, which we did not know (or we would have stayed home and actually enjoyed our weekend).

We (two volunteers who also volunteer for Eleven Eleven, two of 15-20 volunteers who were onsite to help) had no idea what we were about to mess with – an SPCA investigation! From the conditions of the dogs, and the online post, we honestly believed these dogs needed our help.

In meeting the owner of the dogs – it was obvious he did care for each of them (all having names) was doing his best to provide for them, and it was obvious he loved his dogs and parting with them was very hard for him. But it was also clear, there were far too many dogs for him to properly care for. He originally rescued these dogs from a mushing company when they wanted him to kill them, he choose to take them home and care for them.


Saturday August 6th, 2011:

Lets just say CFR fell through on promises for transport and foster homes. We waited around for 8 hours for CFR to pull through on what they promised, long enough to meet ‘the owner’ of the dogs when he came to offer food and water (they only get water periodically during the day for a brief period of time as they eat their bowls out of boredom) – this was when it first became apparent that the dogs were not abandoned and were still owned. Alarmed, the owner called the SQ – who showed up quickly. We then were told that there was an open investigation with MAPAQ on the dogs, so we needed the owner’s permission and the OK of MAPAQ to have authorization to rescue them. The owner, Mr. Lavassuer of MAPAQ spoke with Dee-Ann and agreed to allow us (the group of 15-20 volunteers) to take as many dogs as we could Saturday night, with the SQ and property tenants as witnesses to the agreement. Because the rescue who was supposed to operate this fell through – we realized they are no one we can rely on nor do we want to entrust dogs in their care. So Dee-Ann, Caroline and Sean (the volunteers of Eleven Eleven), and Sophie’s Dog Adoption along with other individuals there to help transport all squeezed dogs into their houses for the night to get them safe and sound – between us 7-10 dogs were rescued in front of the police , with the authorization of the owner and MAPAQ. Two dogs were surrendered to Sean Bernard, one in the foster care of Eleven Eleven the other in Sophies Dog Adoption, and 5 were surrendered to Dee-Ann Gallant.

The owner also has the names, addresses, and contact information of all dogs taken off the property on Saturday.

As we could only squeeze so little dogs into safety, we left with the agreement/consent of the owner that we would return the following day for more dogs – as the volunteers also needed time to crash-course coordinate an entire rescue.

 

Sunday August 7th, 2011:

A volunteer with Sophie had camped out over night with the owner and dogs, Dee-Ann left voice mails with MAPAQ to confirm a second day of rescue but had not heard back. The owner left to take a shower at a volunteers place, and was hesitant about letting the dogs go. Obviously stressed about the conditions of the dogs, not knowing there was a rescue organized for them (or that the SPCA was involved) the volunteers on sight choose to go forward with the rescue on the agreements of the day before (yes it was a gray zone – that was a mistake).

Most of the volunteers for the day arrived around 2pm. One volunteer  Sean Bernard who works with Eleven Eleven and Sophie’s arrived on sight at 5pm and Caroline at 7pm, approximately 10-17 dogs already in other cars with other volunteers Caroline put 3 dogs in her car to transport to other rescues already arranged. We had volunteer drivers and rescues as far as London, Ontario prepared to receive these dogs at all hours of the night, and drivers prepared to do over night round trips. At 7:30pm SQ officers from the day before arrived to check in on the rescue operation, walked around, spoke to a few people and continued on their way as we were following the agreements of the day before which they were present for. We started on our way, many dogs were loaded in cars each with a place to call home and comfy bed to sleep in (for the first time in their lives) that night.

Before we made it out of the city, we were pulled over by a second set of police officers – who had a different opinion on what we were doing. Unfortunately – the owner changed his mind about us rescuing more dogs today and no longer wanted our help in finding them places – he wanted them back, and with him Mr. Lavassuer of MAPAQ did as well. The police told us we had to go back, and chain the dogs back to their trees or we could face criminal charges. Sohpie spoke to the local SPCA who had not picked up their phones all weekend, they wanted us to take the dogs back as they had an investigation on them. Sean and Caroline took their dogs back, and chained each dog back to their trees as requested. So did the other volunteers who also had dogs.

 

What went wrong:

 

1. These dogs have been there far to long, the city has had complaints about them far before the owner was even evicted.

2. The original rescue who sent us ‘volunteers’ to help rescue the dogs – should have looked into what they were sending us out for by making a simple call to the SPCA to start with. Before even attempting to coordinate a rescue of them.

3. When we were in contact with the owner of the dogs, the SQ and MAPAQ; they could have easily told us from the start that a rescue is already planned of them – we would have dropped it, gone home, and actually enjoyed our weekend.

4. It would have really helped if HSI (Humane Society International) and the SPCA checked their voice mails on weekends – we were trying to get in contact with them!

 

Although ‘Dognapping in Lachute; Huskies not so abandoned after all‘ is a much more entertaining title for a CTV news article than ‘Quebec government fails to be pro-active about animal welfare… again’ – news reporters looking for attention rather than useful or even accurate reporting are missing the point. The point is these dogs have been there for ages, there has been many complaints before the owner even became homeless. Once again Quebec has managed to completely ignore an obvious problem until it is an ‘issue’ that they can no longer turn their back on. Once again we are acting re-actively (like The Berger Blanc situation) instead of creating proactive solutions – to prevent this from happening in the first place. Think we wanted to spend our weekend this way? What world do we live in, when the right thing to do last night according to our laws was go back and chain these dogs to their trees with no food, water, or dry land to sleep on (it was all puddles from the rain)? What province do we live in when police escort us back to chaining the dogs, instead of being along side helping us take them off chains? What province do we live in when the owners of the dogs are threatening to charge us – but nothing is being done (as far as we know) to charge him?

 

Was it really our fault that the owner changed his mind on us? Or that we were not told by the SQ and MAPAQ a rescue was already organized for them? Or for going to help lend a hand at getting these apparently abandoned animals to safety? Or that we responded to an add posted all across the internet by the current tenant of the property?

 

Thanks to all the bad press, even more animals will now suffer. Our adoptiosn will now be down, donations will be down – cructial for a private rescue with no government subsidization, ultimately seriously limiting us being able to accept any new animals into the rescue if our foster homes remain full and there is no funding. Was it really worth it, for a ill-informed catchy article?

————————————————————-

 

*SCPA Labelle has rescued the remaining Huskies – and some of the 50+ other dogs the owner is camping out with in woods near by. For more information on the Huskies, fostering or adopting you can contact them here – http://www.spcall.ca/

 

About Caroline

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7 comments

  1. Thank you! For taking the time to go around and ask questions in order for the actual facts to be published!

  2. This is horrendous that in this day an age, such a tragedy could occur.
    Why hasn’t the government stepped in sooner?
    Hasn’t there been proof enough in recent years that the status quo in Quebec MUST change and that laws MUST be established and enforced and that agencies for the protection of animals MUST be in place.
    It seems to me that it’s far too often the “good samaritan’ doing what needs to be done from the of their heart, and those are few and far between. Not enough to go around for all the helpless animals out there.

    The government needs to stop screwing around by overpaying their staff and sticking flowers in medians in the middle of roads and start spending our tax dollars better!

  3. Thank you Caroline for finally putting the truth. Still waiting for Sean to do the same on his comment. Let’s work together now and in the future to help the dogs. That is what it is all about.
    I am willing to work with you whenever you need to.
    Let’s put this behind us and move on. This was an emotional rescue due to the trucks not showing up. We had to scramble to do everything after that. In the end 15 were saved and are in a home/rescue and much better off than a 5 foot chain. Many of them have already been vetted not neutered and the vets all say that they were undernourished.
    Thanks for setting it finally straight I appreciate that

  4. Thank you for explaing the weekend exactly as it happened. It turned into such a mess because of poor communication. If the city, the SPCA and the SQ all knew that they were siezing the dogs on Monday then they should have said so right away and not allowed all this to happen.
    Caroline, we did what we thought was right at the time and I dont regret a moment of the time I spent there on Sunday. We just did not know.
    It is not the rescue’s fault for all this, its the fault of the government agencies that did not inform anyone what was happening. Dont feel guilty or sorry that it happened. Feel proud that you stepped in to help the animals. The rescue groups will survive, but will need a little building up. I know its hard right now, but dont give up hope. It was a pleasure to meet you and all the other wonderful people who were there on Sunday.

  5. “If the city, the SPCA and the SQ all knew that they were seizing the dogs on Monday, then they should have said so right away and not allowed all this to happen.” ~ Common Sense? Because there was never any plan to rescue the dogs on Monday.

    Only good will come of this ~ very proud of all involved ~ ‘Never act until you have clearly answered the question: “What happens if I do nothing?” ‘

  6. I feel so sorry for the rescue teams who suffered time and heart break over slack government agencies not responding to their constant efforts to communicate. These incredible rescue groups were there trying to save the dogs’ lives. I feel just as sad for the poor dogs who had to be LED BACK TO THE CHAINS.. how awfully dismal that must’ve been for them! ..and the caring rescue groups having to do so.

    Poor form on the governments part , and the HSI and SPCA for not answering their phones, which caused UNDUE duress to the dogs, as well as the amazing rescue team who were CHAMPION in their efforts in trying to save some unhappy lives ‘chained to trees’ .

    I hope the poor dogs will find lovely homes SOON where they can sleep on a cushy bed in a warm home with love and cuddles they so desire and deserve, for the rest of their lives.
    I hope and pray all of these precious dogs escape being ‘euthed’ for lack of homes to go to.
    The SPCA could now probably USE the help and resources of these ‘rescue groups’, sadly they have created a sad situation for both the seized dogs as well as other dogs incarcerated in their organization, they must be ‘overpopulated’ for space.
    Had they worked ‘with’ the rescue groups, many of these dogs would be in foster or rescue homes, not in a caged kennel waiting for ‘what ever’ to happen in their lives, alone, in a noisy environment full of anxiety and fear.
    I pray for a better world for animals.

  7. I too was wondering what happened with this rescue. Thanks, Caroline, for putting it all in writing. Mostly, I just feel sorry for the dogs, out there chained to trees without protection or water (hasn’t anyone ever heard of metal water bowls?). What happens when the weather gets bad? Will all these dogs then be dumped into the system at one time, with no hope for rehoming? I certainly hope that someone keeps working with the owner, to insure that they are all well taken care of at last….

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