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Alberta wolfdog sanctuary appeals for support to survive COVID-19 pandemic

Tim Lee/Global News

The COVID-19 crisis is bringing challenges for many people, and it’s especially a struggle when you’ve got 29 animals to feed.

That’s what they’re facing these days at the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary, located 15 kilometers west of Cochrane, Alta., as staff care for 29 wolfdogs.

It’s a non-profit rescue organization that relies for much of its funding on the paying visitors that regularly come for tours.

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But that ended when the sanctuary closed to the public on March 23 to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“We are missing out on a big source of revenue that we really depend on, to cover the costs of taking care of [the wolfdogs], feeding them,” sanctuary owner Georgia De Caigny said. “We still have to do all our enrichment programs with them, we still have to provide them the veterinary care, all that kind of stuff in order to make sure that they’re safe, happy and healthy here.”
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De Caigny says the sanctuary needs about $35,000 every month to cover its costs.

In order to raise that money, it’s started a GoFundMe campaign.

“We have six full-time staff and one part-time staff and we did make the decision to keep our staff on,” De Caigny said. “Just because it does take a lot of manpower to keep all these animals fed and happy.”

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Staff members are increasing enrichment activities, such as hiding bits of food for the wolfdogs, but they appear to be missing the regular contact they’d normally have with visitors.

“They’re used to having people here pretty much all the time, so we need to step up our game with enrichment,” De Caigny said. “We are very fortunate and very appreciative that the public has really rallied behind us – we’ve got lots of meat donations to help cover the costs of food, that kind of thing.”

The GoFundMe campaign continues until the end of May, with the sanctuary hoping to raise $75,000.

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