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Alberta animal shelter at capacity because of extreme cold weather

Alberta animal shelter rescues 73 dogs from the cold
WATCH: An Alberta animal shelter is at capacity after extreme cold temperatures meant an influx of rescues. Sarah Komadina has more.

The Saving Grace Animal Society rescued 73 neglected dogs and puppies during freezing cold weather that set in during the middle of January — 10 times more rescues compared to a typical week.

Now, the animal shelter is at capacity.

“We have been going out every single day, making sure that dog houses are adequately bedded with straw, making sure that dogs have food in their [bellies], and just doing whatever we can and trying to keep up with the call volume we’ve had in these temperatures,” executive director Erin Deems said Saturday.

The shelter is located in Alix, Alta., east of Red Deer.

The dogs surrendered by their owners were found outside, Deems said. Some suffered frostbite on their paws, one had a broken leg that needed to be amputated and six puppies died.

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The rescue usually spends about $20,000 on vet bills, but this month, they are on track to spend $30,000.

“In the cold, when temperatures are reaching -50 with the wind chill, most people think, ‘Oh, we should bundle up and stay inside.’ But to rescuers, it means we should go outside and see what needs help,” Deems said.

“I think for a lot of people it’s a lack of education. They think that dogs are built to be outdoors, but it’s actually such a small per cent of animals that can thrive in these temperatures.”

After dogs are rescued, adults will spend a week in quarantine and puppies will spend two weeks before they are ready to be adopted.

The rescue held an adoption event Saturday. Thirteen dogs who were found in the freezing cold were adopted. There will be another event next weekend when 25 puppies will be ready for a new home.