A Merritt, B.C., animal shelter is trying a new tactic to get people to surrender their unwanted puppies.
"We want to reward that family by offering a free spay to that mother dog," said Judanna Dawn of Angel's Animal Rescue Society.
"We want to encourage people to do the 'right thing' rather than just pawning [the puppies] off on friends, family, strangers; advertising them on sites where you have no idea what kind of life this puppy's going to have."
Dawn believes that Angel's Animal Rescue is the first shelter in B.C. to offer a program that encourages pet owners to bring in unwanted puppies along with their mother, who will be spayed at no cost to the owner.
The shelter got the idea after it started working with Paws It Forward in Kelowna to rescue dogs in Manitoba. It was through that project that Dawn heard about a Manitoba group offering a similar program.
"It's really, really necessary," said Dawn.
"Most people have the intelligence to see that there is a pet population problem."
Expensive to spay dogs
Though Dawn is excited about the new program, it will be costly for the shelter. She estimates it will cost $300 to $500 per dog depending on the weight of the animal. The shelter also vaccinates, tattoos and microchips the dog during the surgery.
"It's not exactly a win-win for us because we have to come up with the money to take care of the puppies and spay the mother...but that is what we do," said Dawn.
Kathy Woodward, senior animal protection officer for the SPCA's Okanagan-Kamloops region, thinks this is a good idea.
"I think that's a great incentive to... turn their unwanted puppies over to a responsible rescue that's going to re-home them and make sure they are going to be spayed and neutered and get theirs spayed in return."
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Angel's Animal Rescue is aware of the financial burden ahead, but does not intend to turn back.