Save a Friend began as a result of the efforts of a group of committed local adopters in Toronto, who formed this small-scale rescue to help improve the lives of dogs in the Bogota area of Colombia through a group there called Salva un Amigo, to bring some deserving dogs to Canada, and to promote animal welfare more generally in Colombia.
While there have been remarkable strides in the situation for companion and working animals in Colombia in the last decade, it is still very dire, with many areas -- both urban and rural -- suffering from an overpopulation of street animals. Life for them is often brutal and short, due to disease, starvation, abuse and poisoning. This also represents a threat to human health, so there is a strong need to curb the problem. But the fact is, there are still many pet shops and unscrupulous breeders at work too -- many people in urbanized areas continue to purchase dogs, fail to vaccinate and sterilize them thereby contributing to the cycle of misery, in some cases unknowingly. This is why sterilization and education are such important pieces for us, and a large part of our mission in Colombia. The local rescue movement continues to grow and there are many excellent groups at work on the ground; people are slowly learning about the adoption mentality, but the vast majority of people still prefer to pay thousands for a so-called "purebred dog," when they could (quite literally) pick up an equally gorgeous and amazing dog from the street for free.
We work closely with Colombian vets to implement small-scale sterilization campaigns in the rural areas outside of Bogota, we also assist in urgent medical cases, and work with local rescue groups to find homes for dogs there. We have a small sanctuary with about 50 dogs (as of March 2020) just outside of Bogota, please message us if you are visiting Colombia and would like to come and see us! Some of our Colombian dogs have also found loving and responsible families in the U.S. through Homeward Trails Animal Rescue in Fairfax Station, Virginia. The Toronto side of our rescue also works with other international rescue organizations; to date, we have accepted dogs from the Dominican Republic and Thailand.
We incorporated as a not-for-profit in Ontario in 2014. Since then, we have found loving and responsible families for more than 200 Colombian dogs in Canada. Our Canadian volunteers know that we cannot save all of these dogs and find them loving homes in Canada – that's not our objective – but every life saved makes a difference. And our Canadian success stories serve as an example: they are ambassadors for responsible pet ownership and the local "adopt, don't shop" movement in Colombia -- and living proof that these animals are not disposable – it is possible to adopt a stray, save a friend, and live happily ever after!
Many volunteers fight daily for these dogs and their right to live and be loved. Hopefully, the statistics will change one day. All we can do in the meantime is share our story, and keep saving one dog at a time.
Clickhereto see the team in action, saving a dog that nobody wanted, and follow his journey to Canada.