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Local unwanted small breed dogs find new owners out of state
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The Turlock Animal Shelter is planning to send another group of small dogs — including the two dogs pictured above — to Oregon. Rescue groups in the Pacific Northwest currently have a demand for small dogs for adoption. - photo by ANDREA GOODWIN / The Journal
A few lucky dogs from Turlock will soon have the chance to start over with a new life in a new country. The demand for small dogs in the Pacific Northwest and Canada is helping Turlock Animal Shelter find forever homes for local abandoned pets. Turlock Animal Shelter has sent 40 cats and 87 dogs to out-of-state rescue groups since January of this year. Many of those animals went to rescue groups in Washington and Oregon, and some as far as Canada. Officer Glena Jackson of the Turlock Police Department said that in the past these animals would have gone to local rescue groups, but right now those organizations are overwhelmed. Most are full, and some are no longer taking new animals. “People aren’t adopting animals. Rescue groups are having to work harder in their own back yards to take these animals in and find homes for them,” Jackson said. The influx of new shelter animals is partly due to the foreclosure rate, Jackson said. Many families who lose their homes cannot support or keep a pet in their new living arrangements. These animals ultimately end up at the city shelter, either because they were turned in or because animal control picks them up as abandoned animals. Jackson said that the most common types of dog at the Turlock Animal Shelter are pit bull mixes and Chihuahua and terrier mixes. She estimated that around 50 percent of the animals in the shelter in recent years have been small Chihuahua mix breeds. “Of course we get all breeds and mixes here. But the Chihuahuas and the terriers are just very popular in this area. We get so many of them that the small dog rescues can’t keep up,” Jackson said. The small dog situation was so frustrating to the Turlock Animal Shelter that staff looked online for out-of-town rescue groups who might want the dogs. The shelter has always worked with rescue groups to try to place animals that are not adopted directly from the shelter. “We have to offer the dogs to rescue groups before we can euthanize,” Jackson said.  To Jackson’s surprise, responses came back from all over Canada and Washington State from rescue groups that had a shortage of adoptable small dogs. “For some reason they have fewer small and medium size dogs at shelters in Canada and Washington. I really don’t know why,” Jackson said. The only guess that Jackson could make for the reason for the small dog shortage was that it was a geographical issue. People in the Pacific Northwest might do more outdoor activities, and would be more inclined to breed bigger dogs. “It’s also possible that they keep their small dogs inside all of the time or get them neutered. They aren’t breeding so new small dogs don’t end up in the shelters,” Jackson said. Jackson may never find the answer to why Canada wants small dogs, but she knows that the Turlock Animal Shelter can help fill their demand. She contacted a shelter coordinator who takes a list of adoptable Turlock animals and distributes it to rescue groups. Two Turlock volunteers drive the animals as far as Oregon, and then a team of rescue groups transport the dogs and cats from there. “The volunteers pay out of their own pockets for the transportation. The accepting rescue group pays for vet visits, vaccinations, spay and neuter. Or they reimburse us for any vet expenses for the animal,” Jackson said. The rescue groups even take dogs that might be too shy or anxious to find new owners locally. They have time to spend one-on-one with them to work on any behavior issues. So far, all 87 dogs and 40 cats placed in out-of-state rescue groups have been adopted. The next group of hopeful Canadian canines will be sent off in the next few weeks for a third chance at a new life. To see adoptable animals at the Turlock Animal Shelter, visit and click on “city departments” to find the police department. Animals Services is listed under the “special operations” tab. To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ex. 2003.