No room for strays

Josh Pennell
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Woman told to turn dog loose again after rescuing it from heavy-traffic area

A woman who found a stray dog on Friday says she was dumbfounded to learn there was nowhere she could take the animal.

The friendly neutered male dog Hine Eloukkal found on Columbus Drive had no collar or chip. — Submitted photo

Hine Eloukkal was picking her husband up at the Nalcor building on Columbus Drive Friday afternoon when she saw a small dog almost get hit by several cars in the rush-hour traffic. She turned around and went back and a couple of vehicles had stopped.

“I called him and opened my door and he jumped into my lap,” she says.

The animal didn’t have a collar on. Fearing it would be killed or be the cause of an accident, if she let it loose again, Eloukkal immediately drove to Humane Services, but it was just after 5 p.m. and the building was closed.

She then went to the SPCA shelter, which was also closed for the day, but seeing some movement inside, she knocked on the door until somebody came out.

She says she explained the situation to the woman who asked where she found the dog. Eloukkal told her and the woman said the shelter was full and in addition, a stray animal in St. John’s is the city’s responsibility.

Eloukkal then asked the woman what she should do with the dog.

“She said ‘The city tells us to tell you to cut them loose.’ ”

As far as Eloukkal was concerned, that wasn’t an option.

“I said I cannot cut him loose. He’s a danger to other motorists and he’s going to kill himself.”

Living in a one-bedroom apartment downtown with four cats and no backyard, taking the dog home was not an option. Again, the woman reiterated that if Humane Services was closed and she couldn’t take the dog in herself, then the city says to turn them loose.

Eloukkal then called 311 but since Humane Services was closed and the dog did not have a tag for which an address could be looked up, there wasn’t anything the woman on the phone could do.

She ended up taking the animal to her vet, who scanned the dog for a microchip, but found none. The vet clinic agreed to keep the animal overnight.


Space limited

Kristy Bailey is the manager of the St. John’s SPCA shelter. She says if it has space available it will on occasion take in stray animals until Humane Services can pick them up, but it can’t offer space for every animal somebody wants to drop off.

“The reality is that I take in over 2,000 animals every year and people come to our door with stray dogs from St. John’s multiple times a week.”

There are plenty of days that it is full to capacity, she says, and on the weekends, Humane Services won’t come get animals from there. So the dog Eloukkal brought was in a hard spot.

“It would have meant that I would have to hold him until Tuesday, basically, and my shelter at the time was actually five dogs over capacity already with a scheduled surrender of a mom and seven puppies coming in,” Bailey says.

As for the cutting loose policy, she says it’s a real thing.

“The city policy is that if it is after hours they will tell them to safely house them themselves until regular hours or they will tell them to let them go.”

A call to 311 confirms this. If it’s after Humane Services hours and the animal has no tag for which an associated number or address can be looked up over the phone, the only option is for the animal to be turned loose unless the person calling can house it themselves.

“I don’t personally support that recommendation, but there’s only so much I can do as one organization,” says Bailey.

“I certainly appreciate that it’s not an ideal situation, but there’s only so many spots for lost and unwanted dogs to go.”

Later on Saturday, Eloukkal was notified that Humane Services was going to get the dog she had dropped off at her vet. Still, she wonders why the city is always warning people not to let animals off its leash when they sometimes tell people to turn found animals loose again.

Organizations: Humane Services

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Recent comments

  • Doris
    September 02, 2014 - 13:27

    The thing is if there was no room to take the poor dog then a staff employee should have taken,if I found an animal no way would I be able to take it home because of a child with allergies even though I would love to.Another thing they say throw the dog back into the street and let it roam,thats ok because they says so.If I threw my dog out and let it roam then I would be charged,seems to me there are a different laws for different people.

  • just wondering
    September 02, 2014 - 08:43

    why is it that it costs so much more here in NL to spay or neuter an animal compared to other provinces? a significant difference too! what's up with that?

  • Many Questions
    September 02, 2014 - 08:38

    Shocked to read this about the SPCA but sounds like they are stretched resources wise. I'd still donate to them first and only. Weird thing is I keep hearing about one animal rescue group all the time in the media about fundraising events and have to wonder where does all the money go to these non-profit groups? Are staff paid in these groups? If so how much? Thought it was volunteer.

    • GentleReader01
      September 08, 2014 - 12:38

      SPCA and humane services have paid positions. I don't think any other orgs here in the city do.

    • GentleReader01
      September 08, 2014 - 12:40

      SPCA and humane services have paid positions. I don't think any other orgs here in the city do.

  • Privateeye 1
    September 02, 2014 - 04:47

    It is a sad but true reality that some pets just escape from their owners or are in fact just abandoned. I commend the lady for looking to the needs of the dog.She is a wonderful human being. As well I appreciate full well the fact that the SPCA has limited space and most times is indeed filled to capacity with lost or surrendered pets.I visit there very frequenty and am thoroughly impressed by the kindness and dedication of all the staff. They foster,adopt out or reunite thousands of pets each year and do it quietly and in an unassuming manner, The city animal service also does the same thing at its location on Higgins Line. As pet lovers most of us can only give so much,do so much or help so much in stray pet incidents that happens in this city on a daily basis. Hopefully in time the Telegram can give the public a complete overview of the wonderful work being done to assist animals in this city by caring people like those who volunteer so much time at the SPCA and elsewhere. Pets are not humans (who of course must always come first in our acts of kindness and caring) but they do deserve treatment with dignity and respect. Thanks to the SPCA and other pet shelter centers for being there to provide this very necessary work.