After close to five years in dog rescue in the area, Golden Paws Dog Club founder and President Lisa Haney has decided to step down and let another group of volunteers step in and continue the service.
“When I started the club it was supposed to have other things, but truthfully the rescue part of it just took over my life. I couldn’t devote myself to any other projects. It just became so demanding,” she says.
Many of the rescue dogs that come to Golden Paws are from northern communities in the region, and they don’t always come alone. After a while Haney began to face what she says almost every other rescue faces: a lack of foster homes. Some of the Golden Paws rescue dogs end up with other rescues/clubs in northwestern Ontario, or they’re adopted by people from as far away as Victoria, B.C., but still about 80 per cent of them stay in the Red Lake area, says Haney.
“It’s absolutely brutal. It’s really hard to find foster homes. I understand, people have very busy lives, and a lot of people are worried because they don’t understand the dogs that are coming in. They think they’re going to have behavioral problems, but, I mean, these dogs are the best dogs,” she says. “They’re so socialized. They’ve seen it all. They’ve seen vehicles, they’ve seen kids, they’ve seen packs of dogs. They know how to read human body language, they know how to read dog body language. They’ve experienced all the elements. They’re the most super socialized dogs ever. I think people are realizing it now because there have been so many adoptions.”
Haney says she’ll never get out of rescue all together, but is ready to step back. In order for her to make a clean break, the new Red Lake area dog rescue is going to “start fresh” and has been renamed Lucky Mutts Dog Club.
“(Lisa) built Golden Paws from the ground up, and people have come to look to Lisa for information about anything dog-related,” says Lucky Mutts volunteer and Secretary and Treasurer Kelly McIntyre. “…she wanted the club to start fresh with a new name to remove her from the limelight.”
McIntyre says, in general, the club will stay the same, but there will be six volunteers on an administrative board instead of one person as president and she says the club will only accept dogs that they have foster homes already arranged (keeping one or two foster homes open for dogs surrendered locally or by the municipal pound).
“Adoptions are driven by people seeking dogs, and simply put, when fewer people are looking for dogs, we will have less adoptions.”
She says the club will continue to work with the northern communities to find a solution to the overpopulation problems they often face. Already in the last year or so, residents of northern communities have contacted the club to surrender dogs, which didn’t happen before.
“People are realizing that they want a better life for these dogs and are contacting us. For example (this week) we were contacted to take three puppies from a community. We are attempting to have the mother sent to us as well where she will be spayed and returned to her home in Deer Lake. The mindset is definitely changing in terms of cooperation between these communities and the dog club. Our goal eventually is to try to get a spay and neuter program implemented in these communities.”
In the short term, Lucky Mutts is working on fundraising events for the summer, and, in the longer term, will be working on becoming a registered charity.