Society finds new homes for shelter dogs

Animals rescued from southern California are slated for euthanasia

Our Last Hope Animal Rescue Society volunteer Sharlene Harrison-Hinds (left) and president/founder Jeneane Ruscheinsky sit with Buddy (left)

A local volunteer-run society is giving animals a second chance.

Our Last Hope Animal Rescue finds new homes for adoptable dogs in high-kill shelters in southern California, as well as local dogs who are in immediate danger. On average, the society has six rescues available at any given time.

“We are their last hope. Without us, they would be dead,” said president/founder Jeneane Ruscheinsky. “The dogs we bring in are not sitting in our shelters here.”

Ruscheinsky opened the adoption centre on Commission Street in July 2014, after running Our Last Hope Animal Rescue for four years. She got involved with animal rescue after the 2010 slaughter of sled dogs in Whistler, where she initiated a petition to have Canadian animal cruelty legislation changed.

“All I’ve wanted to do is save lives. The SPCA is low-kill and they’re not overcrowded,” said Ruscheinsky. “Seventeen per cent of dogs across B.C. and Canada are euthanized yearly but those are due to behaviour, sickness, and age.”

When Ruscheinsky started seeing Facebook posts from animal activists about the kill shelters in the United States, she started sending money to help dogs in Florida. Due to the distance, it was not feasible to find them new homes in Canada. However, when Ruscheinsky found out about the crisis in California, she jumped on the opportunity.

“California having the I-5 on the West Coast was a heck of a lot easier,” she said. “So, rather then send money to these dogs, I was going to save three dogs and re-home them. Here I am four years later saving three dogs, three dogs, three dogs. I just can’t sit by and watch them die when people want them.”

Ruscheinsky works directly with shelters in southern California. She said about three quarters of the animals taken in are euthanized after an average stay of five days.

Animal rescue organizations throughout North America are helping reduce euthanasia rates, but shelters are still overflowing with dogs. These animals are either surrendered by owners or picked up by animal control. Ruscheinsky pointed out that valid ID is required to reclaim a lost animal, which presents a predicament for illegal immigrants.

Rescued dogs are checked by a veterinarian before they are imported to Canada and have a signed rabies certificate, up-to-date vaccinations, microchip, and are spayed or neutered. Our Last Hope Animal Rescue doesn’t receive any government or grant funding. Financial support comes solely from donations and adoption fees. The Society has hosted a few fundraisers, one of which was Pup Night at the Gold Rush Pub in August. Many volunteers contribute funds as well along with their time at the adoption centre.

Our Last Hope Animal Rescue has a commercial business number to legally import dogs across the border. All animals are subject to inspection and GST. Dogs are then placed in a foster home for a few weeks while they decompress and are assessed. Adoptable dogs are posted on the Society’s website, as well as on adoption websites like Petfinder and Adopt a Pet.

Anyone interested in adopting an animal must submit an application form with references. They will then be contacted for a phone interview to gather more information. Ruscheinsky said the screening process helps ensure there’s a good match and safe environment for the dog. Adopters must also sign a contract stating the animal will be returned to the Society if they can no longer care for them.

“The reason we are here is to make a difference in the lives of both people and dogs,” said Ruscheinsky. “Dogs don’t have borders. They don’t need to die. There is a place for every dog.”

Anyone interested in volunteering as a foster or for more information about the Society, visit www.ourlasthope.org or call 604-749-7150.

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