Polar, a mixed-breed Chihuahua was brought to Langley for adoption from California. Dan Ferguson Langley Times

VIDEO: Number of abandoned dogs rising because of California wildfires

‘A lot of people have had to … literally dump their dogs’ Langley adoptathon organizer says

Rapidly spreading wildfires in California have meant more dogs are being left behind as people are forced to evacuate at-risk communities in the state, said Leslie Fee, president of Embrace a Discarded Animal Society, a registered Canadian charity that brings small dogs from the U.S, across the border into Canada for adoption.

“It’s been really bad in Southern California,” Fee told the Times.

“A lot of people have had to evacuate and literally dump their dogs.”

Fee said already overloaded shelters are being inundated, some seeing as many as 50 dogs arriving daily.

“This is just making the problem (of strays) a lot worse.”

More than 5,000 wildfires have destroyed almost 900,000 acres in California so far this year. There have been more than a dozen wildfire-related fatalities in the state to date, including two firefighters and four civilians who died July 26 when a fire got inside the city limits of Redding.

The situation in Northern California was declared a national disaster on Aug. 4.

READ MORE: California may face worst fire season yet

The Embrace a Discarded Animal Society,which held an adopt-a-thon in Langley last weekend, has been involved with the rescue, transport, and re-homing of small breed dogs — which are in high demand in Metro Vancouver — from California since 2012.

It estimates around 200,000 dogs are euthanized each year in California, while in the Lower Mainland there is a lack of small dogs in shelters, which means people looking for small breeds or needing a small dog due to strata restrictions and rental rules have a hard time finding dogs locally.

“People go to a shelter in Vancouver or Kelowna, and they can’t even find a small dog,” Fee said.

The adopt-a-thon at the Langley PetSmart store for over 50 dogs from the state managed to find homes for over 30, including three bonded pairs that the charity wanted adopted together, Fee said.

Fee is planning to make another trip across the border to bring more small dogs into Canada.

Before they come into Canada, the dogs are treated at the society Rescue Ranch in Blaine for illnesses and injuries as well as getting their shots and being spayed or neutered.

It costs $650 in import fees to bring 28 dogs into Canada from the ranch, Fee said.

California dogs seek new homes at Langley adopt-a-thon

Fee said the society was planning its next adopt-a-thon at the Abbotsford PetSmart store at 1305 Sumas Way for Aug. 25 and Aug. 26 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Lower Mainland residents who are interested in adopting a California dog from the society can complete an application on their website www.embracesociety.ca in advance, or at the store during the event.

Selected applicants are interviewed, and a home check is required.



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Dain and Dainty, two mixed-breed Chihuahuas brought to Langley for adoption by the Embrace a Discarded Animal Society. Dan Ferguson Langley Times

Flames consume a home as the River Fire tears though Lakeport, Calif., on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. The wildfires have increased the number of abandoned dogs in the U.S. a Canadian animal rescue agency said.(AP Photo/Noah Berger)

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