They have no idea what to do with a ball. But two dogs from Iran — the first international rescued animals to be taken in and put up for adoption by Toronto Animal Services — do know what they like. And that would be people.
The 8-year-old mixed-breed furry “couple” — which arrived in the city April 5 — have shown themselves to be very friendly, good-natured and interested in people, says Nicola Ware, TAS animal care and control officer.
“They kind of look like cartoon characters,” she said, with a chuckle. “Nancy’s tail is always going and she’ll roll over for a belly rub. Sepehr is the go-getter, he follows his nose … I did try to play with them with a ball and they said, ‘What’s that?”’
The journey from a volunteer-run shelter called Vafa, just outside Tehran, to Toronto Animal Services started with a call from Humane Society International.
It was trying to find places for 15 dogs temporarily taken in by Vafa, which had been found wandering around a dilapidated zoo in Iran.
Because the Iranian government has mused about banning pets, people have been abandoning their animals, Ware said. Vafa has not been able to find homes for the dogs inside the country.
Toronto Animal Services agreed to take two of the dogs because, when the Humane Society International called in March, there was “space and resources,” Ware said. The Toronto shelter, which can take up to 75 dogs in an emergency, generally has only 20 to 30 dogs, and most of these are rescue animals, says Ware. Many are from Quebec, which has lax rules on puppy mills.
“We are part of that larger rescue community,” Ware said. “We said, why don’t we extend ourselves a bit? Why not use our resources for good? But it would never be done at the expense of our animals in the city.”
When it comes to cats, there are normally too many in need locally for Toronto Animal Services to get involved with animals beyond Toronto, she said.
Vafa covered the cost of shipping Nancy and Sepehr (who came with those names). It also found a couple flying to Canada who agreed to “accompany” the dogs on the flight, Ware said. Local volunteers met the dogs at the airport and drove them to Toronto Animal Services’ location on Princes Blvd., in the Exhibition Horse Palace.
The dogs, which arrived healthy, had been vaccinated and screened overseas by a veterinarian but had further tests and were spayed and neutered at Toronto Animal Services, which also cleaned Nancy’s teeth and extracted one.
The dogs don’t look like most Canadian mixed breeds, Ware said. “They have terrier, maybe a little bit of basset hound.”
Nancy weighs 19 kilograms; Sepehr, 21. Because they’re devoted to each other, the shelter wants them adopted together. For Nancy, the fee, including microchipping and all vaccinations, is $267; for Sepehr it’s $234.
They don’t understand English commands but do respond to body language.
If you beckon, they will come.