Fifty or so kilometres north of Toronto, on a farm in King City, dogs with names like “Doobi” and “Chetz” sit and heel in response to Hebrew commands.
Dog Tales, a dog and horse sanctuary owned by Israeli couple Danielle Eden and Rob Scheinberg, is home to dozens of dogs rescued from kill shelters located in countries around the world – Israel being one – and around 70 horses rescued from meat buyers in Canada.
The 50-acre farm currently provides sanctuary to about 80 dogs that would otherwise be killed due to capacity issues in shelters in places such as Greece, Africa, Egypt, Romania and the United States, in addition to Israel.
It also takes on what Eden calls “surrenders” from Canada – dogs given up by their owners for various reasons.
“There’s a high kill shelter we work with in Miami, for example, where they get so many dogs they have no room for them and have to euthanize some – it doesn’t matter if the dog is old, sick or healthy… In Israel, there are too many shelters and too many dogs, and it’s a very small country… A dog that has been sitting in a shelter for years there will be adopted here within only a few days,” Eden explained.
Since opening in 2015, Dog Tales has rescued about 100 dogs from Israel and has found permanent homes in and around the Greater Toronto Area for more than 350 dogs in total.
In January, Eden visited a dog shelter in Israel that was “infested” with rats, where each dog was covered in ticks and sores. She decided, then and there, to buy the entire shelter, and the 250 dogs that come with it. She flew back to Canada with the 25 dogs that were fit to travel, and is hoping to relocate the remaining dogs once they’re healthy enough.
The Israeli rescue dogs, which live in an indoor kennel and are walked by staff on the outdoor grounds five or six times a day, are gradually trained to understand English commands.
Israel Shelter ProjectWe would like to take a moment to fill everyone in on an enormous project that we have taken on here at Dog Tales. The creation of our entire shelter was inspired by four incredible dogs that were rescued from the streets of Israel. In honour of this, our founders regularly travel to Israel to find dogs in need and bring them back to Canada for a second chance at a happy life. On our trips to Israel we visit local shelters and work with the staff and volunteers to make lists of 10-20 dogs at a time to bring to our rescue. On these trips we look for the difficult cases- dogs that are senior, dogs that have disabilities, and dogs that have been waiting for a home the longest. Making these lists is gut wrenching , however it is usually quite clear which dogs need our help the most.Earlier in the year we were taken to a shelter in Israel that we had never been to before. The conditions were shocking. To say that the shelter was overcrowded is an understatement, with more than 250 dogs crammed into a space with the capacity for 70. There were as many as 6 dogs in each cage, all fighting over the loaves of bread that they were being fed. Rats were everywhere, and the dogs, most of whom had been there for years, were terrified. For once, it was not obvious to us which dogs needed us the most. They all needed us. We realized that it would be impossible to make a list deciding which dogs would be rescued from this horrific life, and which would be left behind. We then made the decision to acquire the entire shelter, and take responsibility for all 250+ dogs. In the past two months, 90 have been relocated within Israel to more adequate shelters. 25 have already made the trip to Canada. 150 remain. We have assembled a team in Israel to clean up the shelter and make the dogs more comfortable until we have the space to bring them here. While in Israel veterinarians will be caring for the dogs to address any immediate health concerns. Staff will be working with the dogs every day to socialize them and teach them to trust again. The dogs will no longer be eating bread. To help these dogs, we need your help. Every dog that is adopted from our rescue creates space for another of these dogs to be brought to Canada. If you are not in a position to adopt, please consider sharing our page with your friends and family. The most important thing that we can do for these, and for all of our dogs, is to share their story and be their voice.In our most recent photos of our new dogs, a popular comment was that the dogs appear sad. We would like to share a short video with you that illustrates the conditions that these dogs have lived in for years, and their journey to Canada. In time, with patience and with love, we know that their expressions will change.
Posted by Dog Tales Rescue and Sanctuary on Friday, February 26, 2016
Still, Eden typically uses the Hebrew words for “sit” and “come here” with newly arrived Israeli dogs, and she’s taught these basic Hebrew terms to her staff.
In addition to the dogs, a number of the horses – many of which are retired or old and most of which are not available for adoption, but spend their days grazing in the property’s expansive fields – have been given what Eden referred to as “Jewish names,” such as Eli and Avram.
Dog Tales, which has the capacity for about 100 dogs at a time, often takes in dogs that are older, deaf, blind, injured or have been stuck in cages for years in their country of origin.
The sanctuary doesn’t rescue puppies, because, as Eden said, “everyone else does,” adding, “I’m trying to take the dogs that aren’t the absolute hardest cases but are stuck [in shelters] for no good reason. For example, around the world, people often don’t like to adopt black dogs, because they see them as bad luck, or they don’t want older dogs.”
Dog Tales employs a handful of dog handlers, a night guard and three veterinary technicians, who are available to do blood work or perform surgery as needed.
Every Sunday, the sanctuary has an open house and people from across the GTA come to scope out dogs for potential adoption, often while recorded Hebrew music is played in the background. Also on Sundays, an Israeli chef is often brought in to cook vegetarian Israeli dishes such as shakshuka, bourekas and hummus, which visitors can eat for the price of donations that go toward the animals’ care.
Don’t forget! Today is Open Adoption Sunday at Dog Tales! We will be open from 11-5, and are located just north of Toronto at 1405 19th Sideroad, King City. 37 new dogs joined us this week, and they cannot wait to meet you! A photo posted by Dog Tales Rescue and Sanctuary (@dogtalesrescue) on
Eden, who lives on the farm with her husband, grew up in the heart of downtown Tel Aviv, but has always been passionate about animals and animal welfare.
A longtime dog owner, she and her husband used to donate money to dog shelters in Israel before they decided to open their own sanctuary outside of Toronto, where Eden first lived for a period after moving from Israel. Scheinberg is Israeli but was raised in Canada.
Before opening Dog Tales, Eden studied acting in Israel and recently starred in an Israeli movie, called Laugh Lines, which ran in the Montreal Film Festival in 2015.
“I’m not acting anymore. This is a full-time job. I can’t do both,” she said.