A volunteer interacts with a dog in one of the enclosures during the mass adoption event at Vancouver Airport, Canada, Nov. 4, 2017. More than 80 dogs, from 30 shelters of United States, will be adopted by local families in Canada.(Xinhua/Liang Sen)
by Evan Duggan
VANCOUVER, Nov. 4 (Xinhua) -- A small airplane came to a halt Saturday outside the hangar at the Vancouver International Airport, where about 100 people stood at the edge of the tarmac watching and waiting.
The roar of the plane engine stopped and the door opened. That's when a dog could be heard whimpering from its crate inside the plane. Then it barked. Then dozens more of rescued dogs joined in.
More than 80 small dogs arrived here as part of an annual event that brings shelter dogs from the United States into Canada to be adopted by loving families.
It's an emotional moment for everyone involved. Many of the volunteers wiped tears from their eyes as they witnessed the scene.
Dogs are brought by planes and trucks to Vancouver from "kill shelters" in the United States that have high kill rates due to the overwhelming number of dogs in need of shelter there.
"A kill shelter is a shelter that experiences more surrenders than they have spaces," said Susan Patterson, the founder of the Thank Dog I'm Out non-profit organization. "Some shelters will get 200 animals surrendered to them a day, and because they have nowhere to put them, they have to euthanize them."
Patterson said Vancouver and the Canadian province of British Columbia have become very efficient at managing the dog population through pet spaying and neutering, so there is more demand now to adopt small dogs here than there are dogs in need of homes.
It's a different story south of the border though, especially in California, where this summer's terrible wildfires caused a spike of sheltered dogs.
After her own search for a small dog took her to Washington State, Patterson realized that shelters in the United States were bursting at the seams with dogs.
She formed her organization and started bringing dogs to Vancouver five years ago. Since then, nearly 1,000 dogs have been adopted through her non-profit organization.
Patterson's efforts are boosted by more than 100 volunteers, many of whom have adopted their own pets through the program.
She said each family must apply and be vetted to ensure they can provide a safe and loving home for the dogs, many of which have suffered trauma in their lives.
There's really a need for smaller dogs because so many buildings and lifestyles in Vancouver have pet size restrictions, said Eve, one of the volunteers who adopted her own dog Stella through the program in 2015.
The plane emptied as volunteers brought small crates containing the dogs to small fenced areas, which were set up to welcome and hold the dogs overnight as they adjust to their new surroundings.
Each of the areas is under the care of volunteers who will feed the dogs, pet them and care for them. A vet makes the rounds, checking heart beats and other vitals of the little dogs.
Volunteer Jade Mitchell sat on her knees in one of the enclosures. A small, white terrier emerged from a crate. It approached Mitchell, wagged its tail and sniffed around its enclosure.
"We adopted or rescued a dog two years ago and we really really love the way the organization works and they checked us really good," Mitchell told Xinhua.
"It feels so good just to know that we are some of the first people to be able to love them, not knowing where they come from," she said. "It's really awesome."
More volunteers are set to arrive soon to spend the night with dogs in their enclosures, if necessary. Dozens of people will arrive to meet their new dogs and take them home to their new lives.