Pickles had little hope as a street dog living in Taiwan. As a puppy, someone put an elastic band around her neck, and over a year later it remained in place, cutting into the thin flesh along her throat. Her chances for survival were almost zero. Even if she were placed in a shelter, she would likely have lasted 12 days: the average waiting time for Taiwanese shelter dogs before being “destroyed.” In 2012, Taiwanese authorities will euthanize an estimated 80,000 stray dogs. With only 23 million people living in the country, that number is shocking.
Luckily for Pickles a miracle happened: Canine Education, Rescue & Adoption (CERA) stepped in and saved her life. This charitable organization, run entirely by volunteers in both Taiwan and B.C.’s Lower Mainland, has rescued and rehabilitated over 300 stray dogs. CERA works with independent dog rescuers in Taiwan and facilitates their overseas journey to Canada, where the dogs stand exponentially better odds of being adopted into a permanent home. CERA relies entirely on the compassion of foster owners to take in strays and prepare them for adoption.
Despite Taiwan’s massive dog overpopulation, more dogs are still being bred. CERA volunteer John Son says the main problem is the general attitude towards dog ownership. “A lot of people in Taiwan just don’t know any better. There have been stories of people who buy a puppy, and when the puppy gets to be more than three months old, they let it go in the streets and buy a new puppy.”
Need For Education
The need for education is clear—adoption still takes a backseat to breeding and buying from pet stores. “There’s this perception people have that animals in shelters are somehow second-class or that there’s something wrong with them,” says Lorie Chortyk, the General Manager of Community Relations for the B.C. SPCA. “Our experience is that animals go to shelters or rescue groups because humans either can’t or won’t look after them.” A former CERA adopter and Pickles’s new owner, Ashley Schulz, agrees, “I think the first step is talking about it and just seeing if you can do something.” There are other things people can do to help out. Fostering, donating, and going to a local shelter and walking a dog all contribute to the promotion of animal adoption and the decline of animal overpopulation. When the puppy gets to be more than months old, they let it go in the streets and buy a new puppy. As for Pickles, with plenty of love, time, and training, she has become the dog she was meant to be. “It’s been really wonderful,” Schulz says, “just to watch her grow into who she really is.”