Montreal animal activists decry government decision to ban dogs from international rescues

·2 min read
Alyssa Ashworth adopted Chipie, her year-old golden retriever, a few months ago through a rescue. Chipie, originally from Lebanon, would have been denied entry under an incoming ban on the importation of dogs. (François Sauvé/CBC - image credit)
Alyssa Ashworth adopted Chipie, her year-old golden retriever, a few months ago through a rescue. Chipie, originally from Lebanon, would have been denied entry under an incoming ban on the importation of dogs. (François Sauvé/CBC - image credit)

It's been a little over two months since Alyssa Ashworth adopted Chipie, her year-old golden retriever.

Ashworth met Chipie through one of the many animal rescue groups that bring stray dogs to Montreal from abroad. Chipie, who lived as a stray on the streets of Lebanon, has since settled into her new life in Quebec, Ashworth said.

"She's super energetic. Loves to play, loves to learn — loves to eat," Ashworth said, laughing. "Super cuddly and just all-around a good, loveable dog."

But soon, dogs like Chipie won't be allowed to come to Canada.

As of Sept. 28, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will ban the importation of dogs from over 100 countries, citing an elevated risk of rabies transmission.

It's a move that some animal rescue groups say will have tragic consequences.

"This is just a death sentence to so many dogs," said Kim Desautels, the co-founder of Rescue All Dogs, an animal rescue organization based in Montreal. "Thousands of thousands of dogs — they're just going to die. It's a sure thing."

According to the CFIA, the decision comes after two dogs were imported from Iran last year with rabies.

Desautels agreed that the government should be tightening the rules around importing dogs, notably when it comes to testing — but said that can happen without outright banning the practice entirely.

"Why put a full on ban when it's something that is preventable?" she asked.

For example, she said her rescue works with vets in Lebanon, who do a full blood analysis and test the dogs abroad. If the vets give the dog the all-clear, only then is the animal brought to Canada.

Desautels said the dogs coming through her rescue also quarantine after they arrive in Montreal, as a precaution.

"So to me, [those rabies cases] were just plain, crappy importers that didn't do any of what should have been done," she said.

For Ashworth, she said she's happy she got to adopt Chipie before it was too late — but she worries about those who will be left behind.

"There's so many dogs who deserve a second chance," she said.

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