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Alberta animal rescue saves puppies from freezing to death

Click to play video: 'Alberta animal rescue tries to save freezing puppies' Alberta animal rescue tries to save freezing puppies
The Whitecourt Homeless Animal Rescue Foundation recently saved five puppies from the freezing cold but one was so emaciated, it's having trouble recovering. Sarah Kraus reports. WARNING: This story contains disturbing images – Dec 27, 2017

An Alberta animal rescue is crossing its fingers that all of the puppies it rescued from the freezing cold will survive.

Tessa Lee is the president of the Whitecourt Homeless Animal Rescue Foundation (WHARF). She was at work on Dec. 23 when her phone rang.

“It was a younger girl, concerned about malnourished puppies on the property,” Lee said. “I told her that I worked until 8:30 and that I wouldn’t be able to make it until later and the last words she said to me were, ‘I don’t think they’ll make it until then.'”

Given the extreme cold warnings of late, Lee knew the caller was right; the puppies likely didn’t have a lot of time. She closed up her restaurant early and rushed out to the address, west of Alberta Beach. That’s where she found the puppies.

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“There was three from one litter and two from another, so I got Ruby and her two sisters and then two smaller puppies, about six or five weeks old.” Ruby is one of the three older puppies found.

All of the puppies needed immediate attention, but the younger ones were in better shape. Lee thinks their mother had protected them from the elements.

The three older ones, believed to be nine or 10-week old shepherd-Labrador crosses, were in worse shape.

“The two other siblings could stand up. They walked to me and I put them happily in a kennel. They are very skinny. They were very thirsty and very hungry when I got them home. Ruby couldn’t stand up, she could barely open her eyes.”

Lee rushed all of the puppies home, paying extra attention to Ruby — warming her up and feeding her from a syringe. That night, the other puppies rebounded, but there was little improvement for Ruby.

“I was going to drive in and put her down. I thought it was the most humane thing for her. The vet was getting ready to leave his house to meet me at the vet [office]. I went to go load her in the kennel and she wagged her tail,” Lee said.

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The little puppy made great strides in 24 hours.

“Christmas morning she got up and walked,” Lee said, with tears brimming in her eyes.

Then, on Boxing Day, things suddenly went downhill.

“She started passing all of this plastic,” Lee said. Granola bar wrappers and ketchup packets kept coming up.

“They are in a state of despair,” Lee said. “Trying to fill their stomachs with whatever they can because the hunger pangs are getting so bad.”

Wednesday morning, Ruby was rushed to the vet.

“She is at the vet clinic right now, on oxygen, IV fluids, IV antibiotics,” Lee said.

Ruby will stay overnight, being monitored. Meanwhile, Lee is continuing to care for the other animals in WHARF’s care — crossing her fingers Ruby pulls through.

Lee said Ruby is in good hands, and she’s a fighter.

“Just the neglect that she’s gone through, she doesn’t care. She just wants to be loved.”

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WHARF is collecting donations to cover the cost of Ruby’s vet bills.

“We’re always looking for foster homes, we’re always looking for food, cat litter, donations. Blankets this time of year are huge.”

If you’re at all concerned about an animal’s well-being during this cold-snap, Lee recommends calling Edmonton Animal Care and Control, or the Alberta SPCA. It is anonymous and someone will come investigate.

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