THE DOG GODS: INTERVIEW WITH LAURA BYE, FOUNDER OF SAVE OUR SCRUFF

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If there is one ‘being’ out of every 5 or so proletarians you pass on the boulevard, could you spot that free thinker who works around the clock taking on more emotional parcels than a mailman and have one of the most altruistic métier this shining star could offer? Her name is Laura Bye, the Founder of Save our Scruff. We connected with the tatted, chilled out “overalls” dog god to chat about not only her personal journey to SOS but the life changing movement she is creating.

There are so many rescue animal advocates out there that are fostering donating, adopting etc. But what made you take that extra jive upon yourself to form Save our Scruff. Was there a background or story that impacted you with no doubts? So..I went through a really rough time in my life when I got out of school and retired from my volleyball career. I hate to sound super lame but.. I really just craved some meaning. I had always been a huge animal lover and thought “omg, a friggin dog!” (side note: dogs don’t fix anything, and please make sure you are ready for a commitment before considering adoption!) I figured not only would I get companionship, but also something to be responsible for and a reason to get the hell out of bed. I didn’t know much back then, and honestly, I just fake it now, but I went to Kijiji first thinking that was the best solution after a breeder. There were a bunch of ads for dogs being rehomed but I fell onto one regarding a fostering opportunity with a rescue. It made the most sense to me given my situation. I was just fresh out of school, broke as hell and terrified of commitment. So, taking on a dog for a few weeks at a time with supplies handed to you, why friggin not. My first two fosters were a bonded pair of chihuahuas, and I swore to God I would never ever foster again. They were loud and obnoxious and made me cry and scream and regret ever deciding to get involved. Just kidding though, as I climbed right back on board and basically took over the rescue as my controlling self would. I reworked its processes and attempted to rebrand it and learned as much as I could in the next year and a half. I never expected to do something on my own but it got to a point where I was confident in my skillset and felt I could make more of a difference solo. So, yeah, solo I did.

What places in the world do you feel need the most light in regards to adopting/rescuing? Honestly, there really is a need almost every and SOS definitely doesn’t discriminate. I think what is important is being in the know in regards to how you can help depending on where you are whether it be living, traveling to etc. Knowing you can be a travel parent from places internationally is key. But knowing you can volunteer in your own back yard is as well. Canada has it’s issues with homeless dogs even though you won’t see a stray dog wandering around, but that doesn’t mean the island guys aren’t just as deserving.

 When rescuing these pups what essentials in your care pack do you supply to positively influence these dogs to feel safe in the process? It’s more about knowledge than products or items, to be honest. We have a pretty long and tedious process to get accepted as a foster home and we do that for the safety of our animals. In order to give a dog the love and stability it needs, there has to be an understanding of reading body language, basic survival, and pack mentality, safety precautions etc. The first few days can be very different than the next few weeks, and setting up a dog from the beginning for success is extremely important. It is hard because most of those that get involved with rescue or fostering really just want to fix all their dogs problems by loving and cuddling the death out of them. And I honestly do get it, but what we need to understand is that that is now what is best to get a dog to a mentally stable place. Stability and consistency creates a safe space where a dog can learn to respect and trust, which are very key ingredients to owning or fostering a mentally and physically healthy pup. We, of course, that all dietary and medical needs are met as well, as this can be something that was completely lacking in the past. In the end, what we care most about is a dogs state of mind, rather than lavishing them with treats and toys.

This goes back to touching on 1st view judgment. Anyone can hashtag #AdoptDontShop and still not go out and actually adopt an animal. Do you think people are more hesitant to adopt a rescue dog in fear of behavior? No dog is immune to behavior problems. Most behavioral issues can be fixed but can be so so easily be caused by the wrong kind of handling or care. I think the reason there’s a perception that rescue dogs have more behavior problems is because people treat rescue dogs very different from dogs they buy as puppies or dogs they get from breeders. We feel sorry for them, we give them more leeway, we enforce fewer boundaries, we make excuses for their behavior because of a perceived negative past. We cause problems by handling rescue dogs this way and it feeds into the stereotype that rescue dogs have behavior problems. If we treated rescue dogs the same as a dog we don’t perceive to have had a bad past we wouldn’t have nearly as many problems with behavior. I get that it may be scary to consider taking in an animal with an unknown past, the unknown scares the crap out of me too. But taking what would be considered the easy way out to avoid the responsibility of understanding how an animal lives and breathes won’t “breed” a healthy dog either.

This, of course, leads to the question of what breed have you noticed has been more active in regards to neglect or street dogs possibly more than others? In the states you’ll find a ton of chihuahua mixes in shelters, seriously just stacked on top of each other, sharing kennels etc. It really is sad. Of course, pit bulls and pitty mix too. Strays as well. Beautiful pit bulls are dying everywhere. It’s just not okay. These dogs on the street, regardless of where they are, are just breeding with each other over and over because they aren’t fixed too. It’s a mess. Which is why we have implemented our Spay and Neuter campaigns lately. We may not be able to rehome them all but if we can cut down on the overpopulation, that’s half the battle. So yes, spay and neuter your animals folks! Me of course, piping in by having a light conversation about Montreal with the prior news talk about the situation with pit bulls. Jogging the idea that it starts with the owner first, behavior stimulates from how you train/treat the dog. With both in agreeance, Laura stated that there needs to be some way of making that person more responsible.

Of course, there is no real law or legality for illegal breeders so we had to know, (possibility putting out the obvious right under your nose) Laura’s opinions and thoughts on how do we stop these people.  What you can control though in this situation is whether you give into this cycle and whether you educate those to do the same. The less need for these hybrids or “accidental litters” the fewer people will start considering this as a way to make money. I know be it can be difficult to get in someones face when they say they’re considering buying a pup from a breeder on Kijiji, or that they’re waiting for their favorite Uncles dog to get pregnant by whatever another dog because its genes are too good to pass up. But pipe up. Just say HELL NIO. Educate. In a polite way. Offer up another option. Make yourself a little uncomfortable for a second in order to save a life or 100. Standing up for what you believe in is important, so demand that people listen. Even if you’ve made someone uncomfy for a moment, I bet you’ve made a lasting impression. 

I strongly believe that just because someone is lower class or doesn’t have financial stability still deserve a companion. If you have had or do in the future have someone approach you that is off deck In regards to having a good bank roll, do you have options for those individuals? or how would one get around if a dog gets sick? SOS really tries to do what we can. I agree that those in lower income families can give love just like everyone else. I don’t believe that money buys everything. A dog out of a shelter is a happier dog than in one, and if that’s to someone who can’t buy high-end food and spend money on toys, I’m all for it. I do get emails often from people looking for help in a bind, and although we cannot do so through SOS because of liabilities, we definitely promote to our inside volunteers in case there is someone who can step up. We want to help all around, and like I said earlier, we do not discriminate. Unfortunately, our protocol is put in place for specific reasons. Our adoption fee is high, as our intake fees are high. But we do this because we can and we don’t have much problem finding people to adopt. Moving into the future though, Save our Scruff is moving in a direction where we can be aid to those who don’t have it all and need the extra help. We have actually teamed up with Egale, who is opening up a new dog-friendly homeless shelter for the LGBTQ+ community and we can’t wait to see where we fit in. We want to be able to use what we have in a way that branches out to all those in need. We are all about doing our part, and continuously growing that part as well.

Laura’s goal is to one day open a sanctuary due to knowing some dogs can’t be rehabilitated and stating that “it’s okay and it doesn’t mean they are not worthy”. What Laura Bye and Save our Scruff takes on will forever be something we continuously honor and hold in high esteem because, without people like her, I wouldn’t be able to have an unimaginable relationship like I do with my 2 pups. We are so extremely grateful we still have individuals no matter what is going on in the world or what you see on TV, that they still take a step out of their own bodies and never stop turning the world into a brighter surface for a better future.

If you would like to see these beautiful faces Laura and Save Our Scruff work with you can visit this link HERE. There are plenty of ways you can get involved from fostering to becoming a flight parent and even a casual volunteer. All donations assured to go to life changing services for homeless dogs HERE  I want to thank Laura, from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to speak with us in her extremely busy schedule. Hey, your newest best friend might be in the “paw” of her hands!

Travel Parent – if you are flying to another country for a vacation, on business, to visit family etc, take a look at this MAP and see if your place of travel is on there. WHY? Because if so, SOS could do their best to set you up with bringing a deserving animal back with you. And maybe even supplies for the shelters or street dogs on the way back. Cool, right. Get on it! www.saveourscruff.org/rescue-partners/

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