“A sad Goodbye to Bear, the dog who you may remember that was abandoned at Dalewood, that became a ABCR rescue dog. Bear was Bear-2015-FBadopted by a young man who dearly cherished this sweet boy and lived the rest of his life well fed and very much loved until cancer took his breath from him today. RIP Bear.” Mar. 15/16 ABCR Facebook

St. Thomas people and pets have a lot to thank Bear for. He caused a pet food bank to be set up, and major policy and procedure changes to be made in Animal Control. Below is a post from my St. Thomas Dog Blog that tells his story and, after it, a bit of what happened next. My condolences to Bear’s family.

Dumped and Found (Oct. 2, 2010)

The Dalewood dog is found and at the City animal shelter. His name is Bear. His is a story more of sadness and desperation than thoughtless cruelty. It sounds like a desperate man took what he thought were his only options. For whatever reason, he had to be ‘dogless’ by the next morning. Moving? An apartment? I don’t know. But he didn’t have the $50 for the pound surrender fee. So he fed Bear a good meal, and took him to Dalewood and left him. Then he called All Breed Canine Rescue and told them what he’d done. People went looking for Bear, and they found him.

Wish he’d phoned first

I can’t be angry at this man anymore. I’m saddened and frustrated. I wish he’d phoned ABCR first. But maybe he feared he’d be refused (Bear) pound #233 Sept 29again unless he could pay. Maybe he figured desperate action would get him the result he wanted – a good home for his dog. It’s still Bear who paid the biggest price. He still wandered around alone, looking for his person, wondering how he’d lost him. Bear is a Lab/Shepherd cross. I don’t know much about Labs, but I do know Shepherds will not lose you easily. No matter what they’re doing, they will always do their best to also keep track of you.

Shelter Fails

There has to be a better way of dealing with unwanted and stray animals without making the animals pay the price of abandonment. People are discussing ways of reorganizing the management and operation of the City shelter. The idea, in essence, is to involve the city’s animal rescue groups in the administration of the pound along with the City. What’s needed is a focus on education and actions to reduce the number of animals needing the services of the pound and finding homes instead of euthanasia or refusal to accept animals.

This type of thing is being talked about in City shelters across the country. Calgary has a very good model which has been very successful. I wrote in an earlier post (Giving Shelter) about the manager of the St. John’s Animal Control Shelter who had created a pound environment very different from the usual cages of dogs and cats left essentially alone. Change must be made in our Animal Shelter. It is doable and it’s urgent. With job losses, the number of animals needing the help of the pound and rescue groups will increase. That is on top of the normal levels of strayed and abandoned pets.

Changes Bear made

Spay/Neuter, Micro-chip Clinics: In early October 2010 a committee was struck to assess and improve operations of the St. Thomas Animal Shelter. Shelter employees, City staff and rescue group members have worked to better reunite lost pets with their people, started a spay/neuter programme, and held micro-chipping clinics.


Pet Food Bank: After thinking about pets like Bear – dumped maybe only because of lack of money, we in the STDOA decided to try to make a change. We started a pet food bank.

With the St. Thomas Caring Cupboard, the local human food bank, and other businesses in town, pet food was collected and distributed to those in need. In the first 10 weeks, over 1,000 pounds of kibble went through our hands. The programme is still going, and tons of kibble, canned food, litter, leashes and dog beds have been collected and distributed in St. Thomas and Aylmer in those six years. I think it’s helped a lot of people keep their pets during times of financial difficulty. And it’s all thanks to Bear.

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Abandoned animals will continue to be a problem until all Elgin County municipalities step up to the plate and take some responsibility for lost/stray/abandoned animals. As it stands right now, the municipality of Central Elgin where I live, has an agreement with the City of St Thomas to take in stray dogs but for some strange reason, cats are not included. Considering that at least 50% of pet owners have cats, I question the morality of that decision and have approached CE about this. It’s time for all municipalities in Elgin to start providing some funding to animal rescue in our area instead of rescue agencies having to work their fingers to the bone with fundraising to take care of the cast off animals of thoughtless and careless people.

    1. Hi Kathy, I never figured out the situation with Central Elgin and St. Thomas for lost and homeless animals and I lived in both. You are right, they need to work better together and funding should come from both. Good luck with your efforts, I hope you can get some changes made. Thanks for writing.

  2. First of all I want to thank the young man who rescued Bear.Unfortunately some of this community has never hit hard times like Bear’s owner.I have encountered in the last few years four stray animals in my subdivision.Where are their owners gone! I have dealt with some very wonderful people on these four journeys to find out what happens.Let’s give the decisions and financials to people who care for animals not elected officials .I am truly blessed to have meant so many great VOLUNTEERS.These people give their time and voice to the injured and neglected in this town.Let see financials going to the animals and the people who really care about them.

    1. Hi Nancy, yes, I too am so glad that Bear was adopted by someone who loved him the rest of his life. His previous person loved him too, I believe, he was just desperate and didn’t know what to do. Bear’s situation galvanized a lot of people – both volunteer and official. And one of the best things that happened was that they started acting together rather than separately and perhaps at odds with each other. I’m glad St. Thomas has people like you who don’t just walk away when an animal needs help. It also has wonderful people who volunteer time and money. It’s unfortunate that the way we meet them, too often, is when someone else abandons an animal. Thanks so much for writing.

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