By Christie Lagally
(Richmond News article)
As a new immigrant to Canada, Sophie appears to have high hopes for the future. And rightfully so. This purebred Corgi came from some of the worst conditions in Taiwan – a puppy mill where she was forced to live in horrible conditions and her puppies were sold in pet stores for profit. Her journey to Canada started when she, and the 500 other dogs in the puppy mill, were rescued by volunteers in Taiwan. Sophie was in horrible condition, and she has little fur left from an untreated skin condition.
But recently, Sophie arrived in Canada under that careful and thoughtful administration of the Richmond-based volunteer group, Ocean Dog Rescue. This group of dedicated animal lovers works with animal rescuers in Taiwan to arrange over-seas adoptions of Taiwanese dogs in need of homes.
Beginning in 2008, Richmond resident Joanna Y.T. Chang decided to meet the extreme challenge to help find homes for the multitude of dogs living on the streets of Taiwan. She searched for an overseas rescue and adoption group between Canada and her homeland in Taiwan, but none existed. Chang decided the need was too great to ignore – so she and a group of volunteers started Ocean Dog Rescue themselves.
I went to meet Joanna Chang and the Ocean Dog Rescue volunteers at the Vancouver Airport on a Sunday night. Chang had emailed me that four dogs were arriving from Taiwan that evening, and I could come to welcome them. Three of the dogs, Lulu, Gogi and Kristi already had adoptive families arranged through Ocean Dog Rescue, and the new families were also there to meet them at the airport. Sophie had a foster home waiting. Everyone was very excited. Lulu, a beautiful yellow dog with bright ears and a curly tail, had been found on the streets of a Taiwanese city with the skin of her upper muzzle almost falling off her skull from a deep cut over her entire nose. Luckily, volunteers in Taiwan got Lulu the help she needed. Her condition required two surgeries to reattach her lips. But her new family in Richmond was eagerly waiting at YVR that night.
Overseas dog option is not an easy task, but the Ocean Dog Rescue volunteers had the organization skills to rival a precision flight team. Chang and her team arrived at the airport wearing blue vests so all the parties could easily identify them. Prior the flight, a volunteer passenger traveling from Taiwan to Vancouver is found so that dogs are transported with him on a passenger aircraft. Upon the dogs’ arrival the rescue volunteer sprung into action. Four plates of food and four water bowls were quickly lined up on the curb and all four dogs were brought out of the kennels and calmly welcomed. Lulu and Sophie were ready for some food, but also couldn’t wait for a hug, kiss or tummy rub as well.
Soon all adopted dogs were ready for one final trip to their new home, and they headed on their way with their new families. Sophie went to a foster home with one of the Ocean Dog Rescue volunteers till just the right permanent home is found. But even after her adoption she will continue to be part of the Ocean Dog Rescue family. If for any reason these dogs cannot stay in their newly adoptive home, they will always and forever be cared for the volunteers at Ocean Dog Rescue. “These dogs have been through so much, so we ensure that they never to go through that again”, said Chang.
As I drove home from the Vancouver Airport late that night, the most prominent thought in my head was a quote from Margaret Mead who said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Ocean Dog Rescue is definitely changing the world for dogs and people here in Canada and on the other side of the world in Taiwan.
To donate to, adoption from or volunteer with Ocean Dog Rescue, please visit their website at http://www.ocean-dog-rescue.org/.
Christie Lagally is a volunteer pet columnist.