Canadian Chihuahua Rescue and Transport (CCRT) was born when a few volunteers who were helping its American sister organization decided to establish a national branch in the country.
Since its start in July 1999, that original team of fewer than ten people has grown to approximately 125 volunteers who have rescued almost 1,000 dogs together. The majority of the chihuahua dogs come from shelters and owner surrenders. CCRT provides the chihuahuas with all necessary medical, training, behavioural care while they are being fostered and strives to find them furever homes.
Co-founder Nathalie Houle tells us, “Our volunteers are involved in various animal advocacy and welfare matters, all with a common goal: to bring an end to puppy mills and backyard breeders, and to educate the public on responsible pet ownership.” With CCRT, they perform administrative duties, plan fundraising events, hold regular chihuahua meetups, and transport the dogs wherever they need to go.
When CCRT first began, the group shared a love of chihuahua dogs coupled with the uncertainty of how to get off the ground. “We struggled as we weren’t sure how to create a rescue group. But our shared passion and commitment to dogs, our genuine desire to help, and some serious common sense led us to where we are today.”
The rescue group has many heroes, and Nathalie says the Fogel family is a great example of the dedication of those on the CCRT team. “Terry originally joined us as a general volunteer, eventually [becoming] a regional coordinator and committee member. Her [financial planner] husband Ian became CCRT Treasurer several years ago. They enlisted their three sons to help out in all kinds of ways – at events, transporting, even legal work from their son who is a lawyer. The third son, who is now in medical school, even assisted in birthing a couple of litter of foster puppies!”
Beyond simply loving Chihuahuas, CCRT looks for prospective adopters who have “realistic expectations for their new furry family member.” Nathalie adds that a rescue dog is not a “perfectly-trained, six-month-old puppy who knows when feeding time is, who the boss is and where the back door is to ask to go outside.” In general, all rescues need adopters with “an open heart and open arms and who will understand that accidents happen, an adjustment period is necessary and that patience and persistence will win the day.”
CCRT has meetup groups all around the Greater Toronto Area, and regularly holds adoption awareness events in Ottawa. The meetup groups have all kinds of benefits – socializing new foster dogs, allowing foster families to share wisdom on caring for the dogs, re-uniting with dogs that have been placed, and of course reaching out to people who are doing their research about the breed before adopting. The meetups are posted on the CCRT website and on Facebook. There are pockets of volunteers across the country, and the rescue is looking to add more especially out West and in the Atlantic provinces.
Nathalie emphasizes that every chihuahua dog rescued is considered a happy tail. “There are dogs that come to us from horrific situations who finally open up, discover that the world isn’t all bad. Some dogs end up in rescue through no fault of their own. It’s our job to give them a second chance with a new family.”
Got a love of chihuahuas you want to share? CCRT is currently recruiting volunteers and foster families – contact them directly to apply.
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