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Don't import puppies to B.C.: groups

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

The SPCA is mulling a plan to import puppies to B.C. (FILE PHOTO/QMI AGENCY)

The SPCA is mulling a plan to import puppies to B.C. (FILE PHOTO/QMI AGENCY)

The B.C. SPCA is examining a proposed policy allowing the society to import puppies and small-breed canines from out of province — as long as there’s extra space not needed by local dogs.

In its proposal, the SPCA said there have been fewer dogs being taken in during the past few years. And what breeds they do have might not be “in sufficient numbers or diversity to interest the public.”

As a result, many people seeking a canine companion — in particular puppies and small-breed dogs — are looking at backyard breeders or Internet breeders who exist for profit, the SPCA said.

But the problem some animal welfare organizations have with the proposal is how some parts of B.C. have dog overcrowding problems that have not been addressed.

Alistair Schroff, director with the Lakes Animals Friendship Society in Burns Lake, said the high cost of transporting animals from remote communities is a big barrier.

Those that can arrange flights, often over hundreds of kilometres to an SPCA shelter, typically have to find airlines willing to transport the dogs for free.

“At this point, without intervention, we’re probably seeing at least an order of 3,000 to 4,000 animals (in the north) that are being born that don’t have a proper home. That’s per year,” he said.

SPCA spokeswoman Lorie Chortyk said animals would only be imported if “helping every animal in B.C. has been exhausted.”

However, the SPCA also needs to be financially sustainable.

“So managers can only arrange it if we’re fit to arrange those travel costs,” she said, adding thousands of animals are still transferred from rural B.C. to shelters yearly.

Chortyk said there was overcrowding two decades ago. But now, B.C.’s spay-and-neuter programs have been successful and none of the province’s SPCA shelters are full.

“The reality is that some members of the public are going to come in and they’re not going to adopt a five-year-old dog, they’re not going to adopt a dog that needs some special care,” she said.

“If there are other animals that are going to be euthanized elsewhere that we can put into the homes, why would we allow those animals to die?”

Paws for Hope executive director Kathy Powelson said SPCA should focus on expanding transfer programs in B.C. instead.

“Their mandate is animal welfare, not to be filling a consumer demand,” she said.

“It’s kind of bizarre to me that that would be a response to ending backyard breeding — by bringing in small animals from somewhere else.”



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