save our scruff

134 dogs were just rescued from Mexico and given new homes in Toronto

As the pandemic continues and travel remains nearly non-existent, a Toronto rescue had to find a new way to help dogs in need in Mexico.

Save Our Scruff chartered a plane to fly 134 dogs from Mexico to new homes on July 11, said Jenna Bye, executive director, who runs the rescue with her sister and Save Our Scruff founder Laura Bye.

Aside from the flight crew, the entire plane was for the dogs, which proved costly.

“It’s extremely expensive — it averaged out to be about $700 per dog,” said Jenna, adding there will be more expenses including vet checks.

save our scruff

Save Our Scruff brought 134 dogs to Toronto on July 11.   Photo by Joseph NC

Save Our Scruff has worked with the shelter Dog-go Project Mexico for about four years. And, although Save Our Scuff took a break from dog rescues at the beginning of the pandemic, as weeks turned into months, the number of dogs in the Mexican shelter grew to about 300. The shelters’ founders were struggling.

Save Our Scruff donated funds to add space to the shelter in Mexico but they couldn’t keep up with the number of dogs coming in from the street.

“They just don’t have the space to continuously bring in dogs on a daily basis,” said Laura.

In pre-COVID-19 times, Save Our Scruff would fly dogs to Toronto via vacationers returning home from Mexico.

“With borders being closed and non-essential travel being non-existent right now, it has completely closed off that option for us,” said Jenna.

As with many changes due to the pandemic, this was new territory for the organization.

“We have never chartered a flight. It was something we had to learn,” said Jenna.

On July 11 about 25 volunteers gathered to help out. Around 10 people went to airport customs in Mississauga to move the dogs to refrigerated trucks (to keep them cool in the heat) to Dogtopia, a dog daycare near the airport.

save our scruff

Jenna Bye, left, and Laura Bye met the dogs at customs at the airport.   Photo by Joseph NC

Volunteers then put collars and leashes on the dogs and walked them out to meet fosters and adopters at Dogtopia. Save Our Scruff is handling adoptions for 101 dogs and the rest are going to another rescue.

“It was a big experience,” said Jenna.

Everyone practiced social distancing and wore masks.

Weeks before the big day on July 11, volunteers coordinated the massive job — including screening adopters and fosters.

“The work and time spent and the energy put into being able to make this happen and being able to get every single one of those dogs picked up safely and into a home that is going to advocate for them is the most important part,” said Laura.

Save Our Scruff added new COVID-19 questions when screening adopters. There have been concerns that people may only want a dog short-term for company during the pandemic.

This wasn’t Save Our Scruff’s first in the pandemic, they did a smaller rescue in Manitoba for dogs in dire need.

Although it was a challenge during COVID-19, Laura said they couldn’t wait any longer.

save our scruff

Volunteers helped get the dogs ready to meet adopters and fosters.    Photo by Joseph NC

“We do it because we love and we do it because we don’t turn a blind eye to these problems,” said Laura.

Photos by

Save Our Scruff via Joseph NC

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