New program to reward dog owners who adopt

New program to reward dog owners who adopt– Image 1


Dog trainer and behavioural specialist Grace Bryson is looking to start a new program in Belleville to help reduce the number of dogs that are put up for adoption.
Belleville News

By Steve Jessel

Every day in Canada, dogs are given up for adoption. Some are too loud, some are not friendly enough, some are too active, and others have behavioural issues stemming from a lack of training. The problem is that humane societies across the country are massively overloaded with animals, and even in Belleville, the Quinte Humane Society is almost always full to the brim with abandoned pets.

“What’s happening, is people give up on these dogs,” said Grace Bryson, a dog trainer and rehabilitator of almost 24 years. “The dogs are either recycled constantly through the Humane Society or they’re dropped off on the side of the road or who knows, there’s some pretty horrific stories out there.”

Bryson is trying to start a new program in Belleville to help people adopt dogs from Humane Societies, and limit the number of animals that need to be put down because they can’t find a home. It’s called the Rrruff Start Project, and it would see prospective owners sign a pledge sheet committing to caring for the animal for life when adopting a less desirable or “unadoptable” dog from a local Humane Society or rescue. In return, the program offers a host of incentives and discounted services for the animal, ranging from discounted food, vet bills and training to a donated starter kit filled with essentials like bowls, collars, leashes, toys, food and blankets.

“I’m basically going to give you zero reasons why you would have to give up on this dog,” Bryson said.

Bryson has nine dogs of her own, many of them classified as unadoptable or high-risk. These are the types of animals that are commonly crowded into shelters by the dozens, and once they’ve been given up, Bryson said many people turn around and buy themselves a new puppy for a companion. “Everyone is going to adopt a puppy of some sort, because puppies are cute,” she said. “But then again when they are six, seven or eight months old and they’re beginning to have issues, where do they go? They go back to the Humane Society, and the owners go and get themselves a new puppy.”

Once an animal has been surrendered to a Humane Society, their chances of being adopted are slim at best. At some kill shelters Bryson said dogs are only given up to 72 hours to be adopted, and if they’re a large breed or of a certain colouring, sometimes even less. The adoption process also works against the dog, as animals in a shelter are often confused and scared and act out because of it, leading to families passing them by in favour of a “blank slate” puppy.

“The problem is (the vast majority) of the blank slate puppies are coming from people who did not do anything in the way of pre-natal care, research, breed or anything,” she said. “If you doubt me, go browse the Kijiji of any country, any city, any province, and they are just stocked full of dogs that are ‘free to a good home’.”

Puppies that come from unlicensed breeders such as puppy mills, stud farms or backyard breeders can often run into health issues in later life, as these breeders don’t take the necessary steps to ensure the animals’ health early in life. Improper mixing of breeds can also lead to a litany of health issues for the animal later in life.

“Half of the people don’t even realize where their puppy is coming from,” Bryson said. “We are never going to get these dogs out of these Humane Societies unless we stop all these backyard breeders and puppy mills. I realize that I’m climbing a massive mountain, but if we can’t stop the demand they’re never going to stop breeding these puppies.

“These puppies that are being chucked away are paying the ultimate price for (their owners) selfish greed.”

In order to get the Rrruff program off the ground, Bryson is looking for donations and volunteers. Her goal is to build 500 of the starter kits for new dog owners, but she needs the goods to fill them and people to help build them. She’s starting her fundraising by asking for a just $2 donation, or the average cost of a cup of coffee.

“I don’t have the ability to ask any one entity for thousands and thousands of dollars, because no one is going to give it to me,” she said. “But if I can get thousands of people to each give me a toonie, well how fast that toonie pile will grow.”

To get involved with the program or to make a donation, visit the Rrruff Start Project website