The Alberta SPCA was saddened to learn dozens of puppies died while on route to Canada from Ukraine as part of a shipment of approximately 500 dogs last week, and we are pleased to hear an investigation is underway to determine what happened and to ensure a tragedy like this is not repeated. While is it unclear whether any of the dogs were destined for Alberta, we know small breed dogs are always in demand in our province and that dogs are brought into Alberta regularly for the purpose of selling them to local families.
The situation with the flight from Ukraine highlights the seedy side of dog breeding. These dogs were shipped to Canada because they are in demand here and families are willing to pay thousands of dollars for one. The value of the animals creates an environment where the health of dogs can be put at risk during long journeys to our country and our province, not to mention the unclear circumstances of how they were bred and raised before coming to Canada.
The Alberta SPCA encourages anyone looking to add a canine member to their family to do their homework and ask plenty of questions about the animal’s history. Any reputable breeder in Alberta will be willing to let you see the puppy in its home environment here, and allow you to meet the mother. If a breeder insists on meeting you in a neutral location to complete the transaction, this should be considered a red flag. It is up to all Albertans to limit animal neglect by not buying from groups or people who cannot prove the animal has been raised and treated humanely prior to adoption. It is likely the dogs on the flight would be sold as dogs rescued from Ukraine, but the sheer number of dogs indicates this was a breeding operation not a rescue mission.
It is also important to note there are lots of dogs in Alberta that need homes. When adopting any dog, we strongly encourage families to ask questions about the animals being adopted from any organization. There are dozens of groups who do great work to help find homes for pets in our province, but the industry is unregulated and there is nothing preventing any person or group from describing themselves as a “rescue.” All groups should be willing to share with you the history of the animals they are trying to find homes for. A quick search on the internet will help prospective owners determine if others have had poor experiences dealing with the organization they are considering adopting from.
And lastly, the Alberta SPCA supports any effort to strengthen the regulations and oversight of the importation of companion animals into Canada. The importation of dogs from other countries carries a risk of spreading diseases to both dogs and humans, not to mention the risk to the health of the dogs while in transport to Canada. While we appreciate the efforts of any group trying to help neglected animals in other parts of the world, our country needs to ensure we are not the end destination for dogs raised by unscrupulous breeders in other countries.