“United Nations of Dogs” finds new homes in Montreal

Hundreds of overseas dogs find new homes here. Adoptions come with great rewards and potential risks.

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When Skye goes out these days, she puts on a bright red winter jacket.

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Born in Lebanon, Skye is a desert dog and her body has not adapted to the harsh Canadian winter conditions. Don’t tell him that.

“She loves to run and even jump over snow banks,” said owner, Pointe-Claire resident Zach Moos. “As long as she’s moving, she’s fine. As soon as she sits down, she starts shivering.

Skye is one of hundreds of dogs coming from overseas to Canada; she arrived in September 2020 at the age of six months. In recent months there has been a huge influx of dogs from the Middle East, the Caribbean and other parts of the world. These dogs are different from those most commonly seen in North America in recent decades. many have short hair and little body fat, are muscular and enjoy running. They have almost always been abused in their home country, where they are part of an ever-growing stray population. Often born on the streets or in the desert, these dogs are considered pests, abused by locals or rounded up and killed to control overcrowding.

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Moos and his wife, Maria, are the parents of three boys: Dylan, 17, Zain, 15, and Ethan, 10. They chose to adopt Lebanon-Canada Rescue Dogspartly because they couldn’t find a dog at local shelters.

“We thought it was a good time to get a puppy because we were home, but the problem is that the shelters were very selective and wouldn’t adopt homes with kids under 12,” Moos said.

Moos admits he initially had doubts about the adoption agency.

“I totally thought it was a scam at first,” he said. “Before COVID, the only place I knew to adopt rescue dogs was the SPCA.”

Two months after deciding to adopt, the Moos family picked up Skye from the airport. Ethan held up a poster he made for her, signed by the whole family, which read, “Welcome home, Skye.”

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Fearful and jet-lagged, it took Skye two days to leave the family’s main entrance. It took another two weeks before she left the confines of the driveway on a walk outside.

Now, however, after lots of love and support, she has adjusted well to her new life, Moos said. The boys take it in turns to walk her once a day.

Stella is another newcomer to Canada. Shorter than Skye, but with an equally lean figure and short hair, Stella arrived last summer from the Dominican Republic.

Plateau Mont-Royal resident Paul Klopstock decided to rescue her because he too was suspicious of the list of conditions imposed on potential adopters by local shelters.

“It was definitely part of it, but I came across his picture on Facebook and was enamored,” Klopstock said. “I had always noticed the dogs I had seen from Mexico and Costa Rica, and I had always thought I would like a beach dog.”

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Klopstock, who regularly visits dog parks, has noticed many more dogs in the city from overseas.

“I call it the United Nations of Dogs; the adoption market has dried up here because of the pandemic,” he said.

He said adopting dogs is not for everyone, as there are risks that they will need time to adjust to a new environment. Stella suffers from separation anxiety and is afraid of certain people, Klopstock said.

“When I leave her alone she barks a lot,” he said. “With these dogs there are a lot of benefits but also issues to work on. This is a warning.

Aware of the potential problems, Vida Gosselin ensures that all of her dogs are socialized with families before sending them to homes in Canada. When it works, it’s magic, said the Montreal native living in Qatar. She recently returned to the West Island of Montreal and hosted a reunion for dozens of adoptees at a dog park. Seeing them so happy in their new homes made her emotional.

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“It’s a surreal feeling. I cried,” she said. “You can’t know what it feels like unless you’re in Qatar and see the horrible conditions the dogs are in.

“There are litters of puppies everywhere, and there aren’t enough shelters here. It’s a never-ending story,” she added. “Dogs on the street are often poisoned or shot. Animal abuse is a big problem here.

Those who adopt from Gosselin’s group pay around $700, which includes a flight, vaccinations and a crate for the dog. The group must also pay customs fees and fees paid to porters.

“But 95% of the time we end up paying out of pocket,” Gosselin said. “We really do this for the love of dogs.”

However, vets warn that those considering adopting from abroad do a lot of research.

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“This worries us,” said Gaston Rioux, president of the Order of Veterinary Physicians of Quebec.

He suggested that people considering such adoptions call a veterinarian beforehand, both to ask about the area the dogs are from and to make sure there is a medical professional there who can examine. the animal afterwards.

“It’s not a type of adoption that we would advise much,” he said. “We would advise people to orient themselves more towards animals that are already in Canada or Quebec, even if it means that they will have to wait several more months.

Laurie Dunbar accepted. In her 30 years working at the Pierrefonds Veterinary Hospital, she has never seen as many animals come from overseas as she has seen since the pandemic caused a shortage of shelters. here.

“We can have dogs that look healthy but are carriers of disease, or we can have dogs that aren’t adjusting well, physically or mentally,” she said. “It is very important that they are very well checked in their country of origin and then quarantined once they arrive.”

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