Saved from dog meat festival, 32 dogs find new life in Montreal

Dogs who were saved from the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China earlier this year have arrived at the Montreal SPCA to begin their rehabilitation.

'We really hope Montrealers will be there to help them recover,' Humane Society executive says

The Yulin dogs arrived in Montreal on Friday night after being transported by truck from Toronto. (Radio-Canada)

Thirty-two dogs that were destined for a Chinese dog meat festival have arrived in Montreal to start a new life after being found crammed in rusty iron cages so tightly they were gasping for air, unable to move.

The dogs arrived at the Montreal SPCA just after 9:00 p.m. on Friday. They initially said 37 of the 110 dogs brought to Canada by the organization would be coming to Montreal, but five were placed in other shelters in Ontario. 

The Humane Society International/Canada found the dogs seven months ago at the Yulin dog meat festival in China.

"These dogs are ambassadors for 30 million dogs slaughtered horrifically in the dog meat trade, primarily in Asia, every single year," Rebecca Aldworth, the executive director of the Humane Society International/Canada, told CBC Montreal.

Dogs rescued from Yulin Dog Meat Festival. The dogs in these images are now in Canada, with 32 of them headed to Montreal. (Submitted by Dalian VShine Animal Protection)
Aldworth said the Montreal SPCA was chosen to take in the dogs because the organization has animal behaviourists, veterinarians and staff standing by.

She said the dogs were severely emaciated and covered in wounds when they were found.

"These dogs are going to need a lot of care and attention, and we hope Montrealers will open their hearts and open their homes to these very deserving dogs," Aldworth said.

The Montreal SPCA's advocacy director Alanna Devine said this operation has been in the works for months. 

Dogs are seen in cages for sale at a market ahead of a dog meat festival in Yulin in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in June. (Andy Wong/Associated Press)
On Thursday, it was announced that due to a pit bull ban coming into effect in the city, the SPCA would discontinue dog control service to nine boroughs.

"What people have misunderstood is that stopping dog services doesn't mean we're not going to be working with dogs anymore," Devine said. 

"It just means we won't be contractually obliged to do things we would not feel comfortable doing."

Dogs to be put up for adoption

The dogs rescued from China will be evaluated individually, and the SPCA will decide what kind of home would best suit their needs before putting them up for adoption.

Some of the dogs will be available for adoption as early as Jan. 6.

SPCA spokeswoman Anita Kapuscinska said they'll be giving tips for individual dogs when they're adopted but that it might not be easy at first. 

"These dogs will require special needs most likely," she said. 

"You have to be ready to provide a lot of stability, a lot of patience and positive reinforcement to help them readjust to their new lives."

She added that if someone wants to adopt one of the rescues they should know what the limits of their lifestyle are and how much time they can spend caring for the dog.