Turtle Gardens Animal Rescue, a no-kill group foster home and rehabilitation centre situated in Topley, B.C., will move all of its adoptable dogs to foster homes in the Vancouver area.
The Topley facility will remain as a “sanctuary” only, taking care of dogs that came from abusive homes and have shown signs of aggression.
While Turtle Gardens manager Yvette Labatte has already moved to Vancouver, a paid employee will remain in Topley to take care of the so-called sanctuary dogs.
The Topley facility has approximately 32 sanctuary dogs and will not be accepting any new intakes.
The 12 adoptable dogs that are currently in Topley will soon be flown or driven to foster homes in the Lower Mainland. However, Labatte said she still doesn’t know exactly how.
“We are working on the logistics,” she said.
Once the adoptable dogs are transported to the Lower Mainland, volunteers will pick them up and take them to the pre-approved foster homes.
“I have veterinarians here in Vancouver and Victoria that I work closely with,” explained Labatte. “The transportation is the main hurdle at this time.”
Labatte explained that there is no physical facility in the plans for Turtle Gardens in Vancouver and area. Therefore, Turtle Gardens Vancouver will be an online foster home program only.
This won’t be a great change for Labatte, considering she has been administering Turtle Gardens online for many years. In fact, the organization has been adopting out dogs online since 1996.
“Turtle Gardens has always utilized Internet to the greatest of our abilities, and it works very well,” she said. “Even local adoptions are on-line.”
Turtle Gardens’ Topley facility, which opened in 1988, has been closed for new intakes since June 3, 2015.
Last year Labatte said the facility would be closing due to a lack of community support. In addition, she said there was an issue of safety.
According to Labatte, Severson Road, a 50 km/h highway that bisects Turtle Gardens, has created an unsafe environment for dogs and visitors.
“Even with good fences, dogs do get out and are at risk as are people who walk on the road,” she said. “It is not safe for volunteers to come here when the road bisects the property and cars are whizzing by.”
Labatte said she has tried to reach out to different government agencies over the years but that her problems were not resolved.
Although the organization is based in Topley, the Lower Mainland is where 99 per cent of Turtle Gardens’ dogs are adopted. In addition, Turtle Gardens has a volunteer base in Vancouver of over 80 people that can help organize events such as fundraisers.
“Donations have never been depended upon locally,” said Labatte.
Although the majority of adoptions take place in the Lower Mainland, Labatte said Turtle Gardens has helped many animals and families in Northern B.C.
“We fed a lot of low-income dogs and supplied dog and cat food to anyone who needed it; we quietly spayed female dogs and returned them to their owners while adopting out the pups into great homes,” she said. “We paid medical bills for injured dogs and returned them to their homes; but when we needed physical help there was no one; that is why we closed.”