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This is harder to write than I thought it was going to be - hence, I've been stalling. The south shelter of Toronto Animal Services is no longer adopting out dogs, leaving that service to the other three TAS locations (North, West, East).

Some of you have commented that there have been less dogs in adoption recently compared to a few years ago. Gone are those days when there were a dozen or more listed on the TAS adoption pages. It's a good problem to have, I suppose: a big city shelter not overflowing with homeless dogs.

Still, with fewer dogs available at TAS, fewer people will see the agency as a place to find their next canine companion. I'm sure dog adoptions will never completely be reorganized out of TAS but it's been a long while since they last took in big shipments of dogs from other jurisdictions. No more trucks of anxious and expectant pups from Quebec or Ohio. No more northern dogs from reserves. No more dogs from Serbia or Iran. These days, it seems to be local dogs only and many of those are transferred to rescues for them to rehome.

When TAS South first started taking on an expanded role in dog rescue about ten years ago, the Toronto Humane Society was a mess and there were no other comparable large scale organizations in the city. Now, the THS is more stable and rescues like Dog Tales are doing an admirable job of saving homeless dogs both local and from abroad. So, the rescue environment in Toronto has evolved and maybe the vacuum left by the closing of dog adoptions at TAS South and the decrease in TAS dog adoptions in general won't be greatly missed by the public.

I'll miss it, though, as will the other volunteers I'm sure. TAS South had a good run. These last nine years, spending time with the dogs, taking their photos, writing about them, maintaining this blog and the Facebook page - these were things which anchored me. It was a commitment I always looked forward to no matter how hectic life got. I never found anything more grounding than spending time with the dogs. They always chased away any weariness from the day and enriched me with an emotional authenticity hard to find in our selfie dominated culture. A million likes means nothing to a dog who licks your hand in exchange for some simple human affection.

I always smiled seeing the elation in their faces before every walk. I was swept up in wonder witnessing dogs touch grass for the first time after living their whole lives in puppy mill cages. My sense of hope was renewed when a tail would start to wag after years of abuse, so resilient and still trusting. And there was sadness too in holding the sick ones or the old ones for the last time before they were delivered from their suffering.

I think I must've photographed over a thousand dogs in my years at TAS South and I'm sure there were hundreds more I missed and all but some very few found homes. A huge thanks to all the staff, especially the ones who cared beyond what was mandated by work, the volunteers who shared their time and made the days the dogs spent at the shelter more bearable, and especially to James Maclean who worked tirelessly, and still does, to save lives.

All good things come to an end. Dog adoptions at Toronto Animal Services South is now closed.


6 Comments to “Closed”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I'm sorry to hear this news but glad that TAS South will still be handling cats and small animals.
    Will you walk dogs elsewhere and continue this blog? I would really miss your writing and photos.

  2. Fred says:

    Thanks and I'll miss it too but I haven't really decided what to do with this blog. Need to give it some thought.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I have been looking for a rescue recently and it definitely feels like there are less dogs available in Toronto then there used to be, which is a good thing. Many of the rescues that are available have been brought in from other places too. Which implies that Toronto is improving on responsible dog owners.
    I'm sorry for the volunteers and any staff who are displaced. I do hope you continue to blog in some capacity and I enjoy your photos.

  4. Thank you for this blog. I have had it book-marked for the past 8 years (even following it from its original location on the net). We adopted our dog from TAS South 8 years ago. We are so thankful for her. I look forward to seeing what this blog evolves into...

  5. Anonymous says:

    thank you so much for your blog, on behalf myself, a circle of friends, past and current partners who have clicked on it as part of our lives. your empathy for the unique personalities and vulnerability of the animals you've connected shines through, and helps us be a little more sensitive and smile a little more.

  6. I remember when this happened and was saddened by the guys were doing amazing work there. But I suppose it's a success when Minucipal services are redundant as it means a healthy community is doing good work.

    That said I still have our visit etched into our memories, and Jasper, our lovely pup, continues to do so very well out on the West coast where we're making a new home. All that love started at TAS.

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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.