Ontario SPCA and Humane Society (Ontario SPCA) is known for transporting pets from overcrowded animal centers to their locations — and as of May 2021, they’ve officially expanded that program to help shelters in the U.S.
“When we say overcrowding, they’re not just getting close to capacity, they are over capacity,” Bonnie Bishop, associate director of the Animal Protection Services department at Ontario SPCA, said. “The facilities and staff are extended, and they have more animals than they have homes for adoption. We have an opportunity and a capacity to be able to help make a difference in the lives of these animals and to provide options that are not currently available to a lot of these animals in the U.S.”
Depending on how quickly the current group of animals can be spayed and neutered, transports are made every 3 weeks. First, a small group from the US makes the 15-hour drive in a climate-controlled van to the Canadian-U.S. border. Once they arrive, the 16 to 20 animals from the U.S. are subject to health checks and approval by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Canadian Border Services Agency(CBSA). Then, the Ontario SPCA team makes the several-hour drive to animal centers in Ontario. Along the way, several stops are made to check on the animals, provide food and water and take them on walks. Even though the trip is long, the benefits are worth every hour on the road. “It's fantastic and I'm so grateful to be a part of this program and very excited about it,” Bonnie said.
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When The Dig spoke to Bonnie in late July 2021, the team was already gearing up for their fifth transport. Since the start of the program, around 65 dogs (all older than 8 months) have been moved from shelters in North Carolina. And, while they’ve completed a lot of transports, there are still a lot of hoops the team has to jump through. In addition to following COVID-19 protocols, which include wearing proper protective gear, the animals must be approved by the USDA and Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), who ensure the dogs are healthy, traveling in safe conditions and have correct documentation to enter the country.
From Bonnie’s perspective, the dogs seem to appreciate the love and support. All of the animals that are transported have good temperaments and show a range of emotions upon arrival. “In each group, there are a few that are shy, some are a little bit scared,” Bonnie said. “Then others that are just like, ‘Hey, hello world, we're here.’”
The program has been such a success that they’re already receiving animal transport requests from other U.S. states, like Texas and South Carolina. “We're really excited to be able to help,” Bonnie said. “I think we're making a huge difference in the lives of animals and being able to provide a little bit of relief to our partners in the U.S.”
Learn more about Ontario SPCA and Humane Society.
Photo by Ontario SPCA and Humane Society