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The highways are clear and we make good time. We cross the Ontario Quebec border at around 4:30 and into Valleyfield just as it's getting dark. The GPS tells us to do a U-turn which seems odd at first but we discover later that this is pretty standard driving procedure for the area. We see the painted sign, big blue letters on a plain white background: SPCA Salaberry-de-Valleyfield. We pull into the lot. From the outside, the building looks like a non-descript mid-sized warehouse.

Pierre's been running this place for several months now. The animals are his life. It was originally set up by a group of three people who quickly realized they got in over their heads. And before them, local pound services were provided by a pet store owner who sold, bred, killed the dogs in no particular order. Whatever he did, he made money so it didn't much matter.

So, the SPCA is way better than it was. Pierre started out as a volunteer, doing handyman chores around the place under the original three. He got more involved, started spending more time there. Eventually, when it became obvious the place was getting out of control, Pierre offered to take it over and to his surprise, they agreed.

He tells us a lot more work still needs to be done on the place. The dog kennels are still rough but at least the dogs are no longer chained to the walls. The cats, though still too many of them, are well-fed, clean. There's heat in the place. The city is helping out now with supplies, money. Partnerships with other rescues are starting up. That's why we're here.

Chip and Charlie

We'll be bringing Chip and Charlie, two brothers, 70 pound mutts, with us back to the Toronto Humane Society. They're uncivilized but they're happy, friendly with everything dogs. And they've got great cage presentation. They sit pretty, watching us calmly but with interest. They will be coming with us when we leave on Sunday but there are others there. A wonderful young black Lab with hip dysplasia who has been there for months. An older Lab mix who has tired eyes. Younger dogs full of life and hope. And all these other dogs we will be leaving behind because there are other shelters we will be visiting and other dogs we will be taking back with us. And more dogs we will be leaving behind.

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A request

The reason for this blog is to help get specific dogs adopted from TAS but equally important is to try to normalize the idea of shelter dogs being just as good and just as desirable as any other dogs including those which are regularly merchandised by backyard breeders, puppy millers and those few remaining pet store owners who still feel a need to sell live animals. The single greatest stigma shelter animals still face is the belief that shelter animals are substandard animals. Anyone who has had enough experience with shelter animals knows this is untrue but the general public hasn't had the same experiences you've had. They see a nice dog photo in a glossy magazine and too many of them would never think of associating that dog with a dog from a shelter. After all, no one abandons perfectly good dogs, right? Unfortunately, as we all know, perfectly good dogs are abandoned all the time.

The public still too often associates shelter dogs with images of beat up, sick, dirty, severely traumatized animals and while we definitely sometimes see victims such as these, they are certainly not the majority and, regardless, even the most abused animals can very often be saved and made whole again.

Pound Dogs sometimes discusses the sad histories some of the dogs have suffered. For the most part, though, it tries to present the dogs not as victims but as great potential family members. The goal is to raise the profiles of animals in adoption centers so that a potential pet owner sees them as the best choice, not just as the charity choice.

So, here's the favour I'm asking. Whenever you see a dog picture on these pages you think is decent enough, I'd like you to consider sharing it on Facebook or any other social media sites you're using (I know many of you do this already and thank you for that). And when you share it, please mention that the dog in the photo is a shelter dog like so many other shelter dogs waiting for a home. If we can get even five percent of the pet buying public to see shelter dogs differently, to see how beautiful they are and how wonderful they are, and to consider shelter dogs as their first choice for a new family member, we can end the suffering of homeless pets in this country.