Hamilton

Welland SPCA saves 150 'starving' U.S. dogs, up for adoption this weekend

Dozens of dogs that were crammed into kennels and starving in the U.S. up until last month will be up for donation in Stoney Creek this weekend.

Adoption event happening in Stoney Creek from Thursday to Sunday

"Rascal" is one of the dogs up for adoption at the Welland SPCA's event in Stoney Creek this weekend. (Welland SPCA)

Dozens of dogs that were crammed into cages and starving in the U.S. up until last month will be up for donation in Stoney Creek this weekend.

It's a project spearheaded by the Welland and District SPCA, which brought the dogs up from Louisiana in mid-June.

Tammy Gaboury, an animal care manager with the SPCA, said the organization had heard from a partner group in the U.S. about the situation and felt compelled to act.

For these animals, it's a new beginning.- Tammy Gaboury, animal care manager, SPCA

"They were literally starving," she said. "We just thought there was something we had to do to help these dogs."

The dogs come from a municipal animal shelter in a city called Bastrop that was facing severe overcrowding. Dogs were packed in with as many as ten in a cage, fighting and barking, Gaboury said.

"Their air conditioning broke down in one building, and they lost several puppies because of the heat," she said.

The bulk of the dogs available at the event come from Louisiana. (Welland SPCA)

That's where the SPCA stepped in. Southern Ontario shelters have low numbers of dogs right now, Gaboury said, which isn't uncommon for the area. She attributed those numbers to high rates of spaying and neutering in the region, which keeps numbers down.

With the extra space, they were able to house the dogs.

Fewer dogs in shelters

That's a trend that's being seen across Canada, according to Jennifer Harkness, development coordinator with the PEI Humane Society, which is also seeing more space than ever.

Harkness told CBC News in a previous interview that a declining number of dogs are being surrendered to shelters, with an increasing popularity of dog ownership. The result is a lineup of three or four families being interviewed, competing for the chance to adopt one dog.

It costs $400 to adopt a pet at the event this weekend. (Welland SPCA)

The dogs that are coming from the U.S. are up for adoption this weekend from Thursday to Sunday at the PetSmart location at 1779 Stone Church Road East in Stoney Creek, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Alongside the dogs from the U.S., there will be animals up for adoption from First Nations communities in northern Ontario.

Medical issues dealt with

It costs $400 to adopt a dog — which Gaboury says covers costs for spaying or neutering, as well as vaccinations and flea and tick treat and heartworm medications.

The funds also go towards covering the costs of bringing the animals to Canada.

"Any medical issues we've come across are being dealt with by our team," she said. PetSmart Charities of Canada also provided a $12,500 grant to help treat and house the dogs.

"It's a pretty amazing feeling to know you've made a difference in a dog's life," says Tammy Gaboury, animal care manager with the SPCA. (Welland SPCA)

There's a wide variety of dogs, but they're mostly in the small to medium size range and under 40 pounds. There are some younger dogs, Gaboury says, but none are under eight months old.

The shelter also gives the opportunity for a "sleepover" to see how a dog reacts in your home to make sure that it's the right fit.

"These are rescue dogs. Are they going to be perfect? No," Gaboury said.

"But for these animals, it's a new beginning."