Rescue group brings 55 small homeless dogs to Langley for adoption

A U.S.-based animal shelter will be at PetSmart this weekend with a record number of dogs.

There’s different views on adopting a rescue dog from the U.S. or other countries and importing them into Canada.

On one side of this controversial issue, people insist there are enough dogs in need right here in this country – including those in the Lower Mainland – that all efforts should be focused on finding homes for those animals.

Some proponents accuse the groups importing dogs of being “puppy brokers” who bring dogs in for sheer profit.

Others are adamant that anything and everything should be done to save a dog’s life and give it a safe forever home – and if that means here in Canada, then so be it. For these advocates, they don’t care where th dog comes from.

The debate on this subject is ongoing, but Leslie Fee of Embrace a Discarded Animal Society insists she and her husband, Ralph, are simply the kind of people who want to make a difference and want to help as needed.

This couple is bringing at least 55 dogs from the United States into Langley this weekend, hoping to find the animals forever homes north of the 49th Parallel.

The dogs, most from California, will be here for a three-day adoption event happening at PetSmart Langley from Friday, Aug. 10 to Sunday, Aug. 12.

“I just got back from California where I had several meetings with shelter heads and rescue partners,” said Embrace founder and president Leslie Fee. She operates the Embrace’s Blaine-based animal shelter.

She claims more than 200,000 dogs are euthanized in California alone each year.

She’s visited numerous shelters in California, recalling one had as many as 500 dogs “in care.”

There are simply too many dogs coming in every day, and not enough homes in the state, Fee said.

Consequently, shelter managers in California know they must send dogs to other geographical areas to save their lives, and they depend on rescue operators, like Fee.

Fee said she’s committed to helping.

“The situation in California is changing but there are still many dogs dying in shelters or even worse, not getting picked up off the streets as strays,” she elaborated. “This has motivated our team to work even harder this year to save more dogs.”

The Embrace society’s facility was set up across the border in the U.S. about three years ago, when Fee said she was able to purchase a 10-acre property for pennies on the dollar compared to sites she’s been looking at in the Lower Mainland.

Prior to that, Embrace operated primarily with foster homes. But now, she said, the dogs are cared for on the ranch that has kennels and lots of room for the animals to run.

The goal of Leslie and Ralph is to fill a need: to find homes for small dogs, so people aren’t buying dogs from puppy mills.

While most of the dogs in care at Embrace are from California, there are some from Taiwan and infrequently from communities rocked by disasters such as wildfires, earthquakes, and floods.

Dogs are never adopted “off the table,” Leslie explained, noting that any potential adopter must be screened and interviewed – with selected applicants undergoing a home visit prior to approval.

“We don’t want people coming in expecting to just pick out a dog,” she said.

“The events are merely to let people meet the dogs,” Leslie added, noting they’re particular about finding the “right home for our dogs.”

Lower Mainland residents interested in adopting can complete an application on the society’s website www.embracesociety.ca in advance, or at the store during the event.

She and her husband have been running adoption clinics for the past few years in Abbotsford, White Rock, and Langley.

They’ll be pulling up in front of the Langley PetSmart again this weekend, with their large, customized motorhome, dubbed the Rescue Express. It is outfitted specifically to transport the dogs.

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