A handful of Alberta animal rescue groups recently answered the call after a remote community in northern Saskatchewan reached out for help in dealing with hordes of stray dogs and cats.
“Early Saturday morning, we had a crew of volunteers that headed out into the surrounding community and rounded up stray dogs over the course of six hours,” explained Saving Grace’s executive director, Erin Deems.
The weather was freezing, -36 with the windchill, but it didn’t deter the volunteers.
“It gets quite cold and these animals were in desperate need. If they weren’t rescued, many would have perished,” explained AARCS’ executive director, Deanna Thompson.
In total, 110 dogs and 26 cats were pulled from the community.
“They’re trying to be sort of proactive in trying to help curb the population of stray and roaming animals that really do put the community at risk, and the animals at risk,” explained Genevieve Candelora, the co-chair of Northern Animal Rescue.
Her group works very closely with remote communities to help pets in need and brings up mobile vet services a few times each year, fixing about 80 animals each time.
“That’s part of the problem — that people don’t have access to that service on a regular basis,” Candelora said.
Deems said rescue groups in Alberta can reach out to other provinces thanks to the advances made by the Alberta Spay Neuter Task Force. The group brings mobile vet services to remote communities to help reduce pet populations.
“In Saskatchewan, they haven’t quite got that going to the extent that they have in Alberta and the population is high in these remote communities,” Deem said. “And they’re so far away from the nearest vet clinic.”
For this particular community, the nearest vet is more than three hours away.
Over the weekend, the dogs and cats were kenneled and convoyed in vans to Alberta, where they were distributed to various rescues across the province: Saving Grace, AARCS, Klassic Kennels, CAWS and the Calgary Humane Society.
“It cannot be done by one person or one rescue organization,” Deems explained. “It really is a collaborative effort on all of our parts in Alberta just to step up and make sure that we can help these dogs as best we can, while still being able to help dogs in our own province.”
The animals also received veterinary care.
“We have one dog who had to have his leg amputated,” Thompson said. “We believe his foot may have been caught in a snare. Otherwise they seem OK — a little emaciated and hungry, but they’re going to do just fine.”
In Alix, at the Saving Grace Animal Sanctuary, the dogs are adjusting well, wagging their tails in search of pets as people pass by their pens.
She added the community took the right steps in asking for assistance.
“They reached out for help and that’s what we’re here to provide,” Deems said. “They had a lot of community support on that day.
“They had volunteers coming out and helping round up the dogs. So really, they’re doing what they see best and what they can do with their resources, and we commend them for that.”
Deems explained that Saving Grace routinely gets requests for help from northern communities, and ends up doing large-scale rescues about once every three weeks through the winter.
“The community kind of sets its own standards, whether it’s a dog with a collar that can’t be picked up, or dogs on someone’s property that can’t be picked up. But for the most part, like this rescue, for example, any dog that was free roaming off the property that wasn’t tied up was to be removed that day.”
The next rescue is already planned for northern Manitoba on Feb. 9 and Saving Grace is looking for donations and volunteers.
“Any donation is hugely beneficial, and come out and adopt,” Deems said.