Brantford’s Puppy Pandemic
Finding homes for the dogs that need them the most.
Celeste Percy-Beauregard, February 20, 2023 // Brantford, Ontario Two cuddly canines sitting pretty. Photo by Geoff Fitzgerald.
“Organized chaos,” is how Cassia Bryden describes her life, when she calls from the road, ferrying several pups to Guelph to be spayed. Between her job with Animal Control, and her own dog rescue, Sato Saved End of the Line Dog Rescue and Rehabilitation, she’s getting more calls than ever to collect surrendered and abandoned pets.
It’s why she’s adamant about fixing the canines that come through her rescue, knowing countless dogs are already desperate for homes. “Everybody wanted a puppy,” she says of the early days of the pandemic, “So the price of puppies was skyrocketing. All of these people who wanted to make fast money, went out and got whatever kind of dog they could get that was mature, and waited for it to go into heat and produce litters."
These adorable pups may still be available for adoption, reach out to Sato Saved today! Photo by Geoff Fitzgerald.
Now that the puppy-fever has broken, pet rescues are left dealing with the aftermath. In the past 60 days alone, Cassia has taken an astounding 30-plus unwanted puppies into her rescue. She specializes in the dogs that fall through the cracks, “Generally medium-to-large breeds [with] behavioral problems,” she says. Perhaps they can't walk on a leash, aren’t good around other animals or kids, or have food aggression. “These are the types of dogs that Sato Saved has always helped. Ones that have these quirky, stupid, silly behaviors that might get them euthanized, but that I don't feel is a good reason to kill a dog,” she says.
The rescuer estimates that she’s helped “Probably close to 250,” dogs – and cats – find forever homes in the past year alone, whether through Animal Control, her own rescue, or what she calls “underground networking for rehoming.” With 19K Facebook followers, and relationships with other rescues and animal shelters across Ontario, Cassia often sees dogs that may be a fit for someone she knows looking to adopt, and plays matchmaker. “I don't get any kickback from it,” she says, “Except for knowing that the dog now has a home and it's not sitting in that shelter.”
Folks unfamiliar with pet adoption might be surprised to learn there’s typically an adoption fee, which Cassia explains helps cover the vet bills, which can run high with some of the abused or neglected animals coming Cassia’s way. “If I haven't had to put a ton of money into the dog, then the fee can stay low, and that way the dog gets a home easier,” she says, “But puppies need three [rounds of] vaccines and tons of deworming and they also need a lot of training.”
The animal-lover grew up with dogs in the home, and made her first rescue when she was around 12 years-old on a family road trip across the States. Spotting a dog in a ditch, she bargained with her parents to use the money she’d saved for souvenirs, to take the dog to the vet. “I convinced them to let me smuggle her in[to our hotel] and gave her a bath with the nice hotel towels,” she says, “And that was what started my journey on dog rescue and it sort of spiraled from there.”
A co-op placement at Greenwich Veterinary Services, grew into a job as a vet assistant, and it was at that point Cassia realized how many folks were struggling to financially care for their dogs and cats, and her rescue began in earnest. “I knew there were many animals getting euthanized, that probably didn't need to be,” she says, “But they needed either money or time, and rehab with someone with experience and the knowledge, and there wasn't enough of that in Brantford.”
Each of these babies were rescued, vetted and trained by Cassia of Sato Saved. Photo by Geoff Fitzgerald.
Since then, Cassia has lovingly rehabilitated many dogs deemed beyond hope. “I have also had to euthanize about five dogs that I hoped I would be able to rehabilitate, that I did not feel I could safely integrate back into society,” she says, her voice filling with emotion, “I bawled my eyes out on every one, and I have all of their ashes, and I take it to heart every time. But what do you do? You can't save every single dog. It's the reality of rescue.”
A reality, that’s a window into the darker side of humanity. “Those dogs that were euthanized were ruined by humans. They had those behaviors because someone either didn't take the time to train them properly…or they were put into an abusive or neglectful situation that changed how they were,” Cassia says. “There’s probably only 0.1% of dogs that I've seen that were born with an innate behavioral problem that makes them worthy of euthanasia…They were not wired properly,” she says.
What keeps Cassia going through the hardest days, is her support system, which includes several good friends who also run rescues, as well as her online community of fosters, adopters, and supporters. They keep in touch, sharing photos and updates of their thriving “Sato Dogs,” and doing what they can to help – whether organizing fundraisers, spreading the word about dogs needing homes, or buying items off the Amazon wish list.
“People don't realize how much that takes the load off of me on my end,” Cassia says, because it’s these seemingly-small gestures that allow her to continue the work she’s doing. “To help support dogs like this – it's awesome, and I love it.”
If you’re interested in adopting one of the pictured dogs, or for information about additional dogs in need of homes, visit the Sato Saved End of the Line Dog Rescue and Rehabilitation website HERE, and follow them on Facebook HERE.
Want to support the rescue but can’t take in a dog at this time? To purchase an item off their Amazon wish list click HERE.
Kidney Clothes is accepting clothing donations (even damaged items) for recycling, with funds going to Sato Saved End of the Line Dog Rescue and Rehabilitation. For more information, or to make a monetary donation (including direct-to-vet), click HERE.
Want to give your own pup a photoshoot? Visit Fetching Studios HERE.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Celeste Percy-Beauregard’s first form of storytelling was as an actor, and her eager curiosity and interest in a variety of subjects led her to writing. Her work has appeared in Toronto Star and Today’s Parent, and she is enjoying exploring Brantford and learning about the people and places that make it such a special city.
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER
Geoff Fitzgerald is an award winning freelance photographer, second season beekeeper, passionate pet dad to an Olde English Bulldogge, two cats and two rats. With an incredible drive and desire for compelling stories and intimate portraits he focuses his skills mainly on the editorial and advertising/commercial world of photography.