An election in Edmonton to determine which four-legged candidate would boast the title of Mill Creek off-leash president ended in a coalition government.
More than 3,000 votes were cast in a campaign that captivated — and confused — many.
On Friday, it was announced that Tuna the dog and Addie the cat had split the popular vote, despite Addie never stepping foot in the off-leash area before Friday’s announcement.
The campaign first started in April when Devon Peterson put up a poster for his dog, Lenart, as a joke.
Later, two more posters arrived on the board.
“It was just so thrilling. I had been walking through the area, under the trestle bridge, making a point to check the board to see if anybody had posted anything,” Peterson said.
By Friday, 21 candidates had officially entered the election.
“It kind of evolved organically,” Elly Knight, who made a poster for her dog, Salix said. “We thought it should go to an actual vote.”
Suddenly, these pet owners had an election on their hands.
“I think it hits a lot of points. It’s a great community connection. Mill Creek is such a hub. The posters themselves give people a good laugh. I think in times of struggle, we turn to our pets for unconditional love,” Knight said.
“This is a great way to share that unconditional love with each other and the greater Edmonton community.”
The campaign heats up
Nominees created social media campaigns, stickers and even promotional videos for their pets.
“It’s pretty neat to see how far people have taken it. I’ve gotten quite a few responses from folks who submitted candidates and folks who have voted,” Knight said.
“It is bringing a lot of joy right now. It’s been neat to see the reception. It’s a little hard to keep up with. People are voting a lot faster than we thought.”
Lindsay Silzer is the “campaign manager” for two-year-old Tuna. She said her neighbour told her about the “election.”
“We came down and checked out all of the posters and we decided to enter Tuna.”
Tuna only entered the polls on Sunday, but the Boxer quickly gained traction.
“It was an explosive day in the polls. He quickly climbed to third by the afternoon, and by late evening he has pulled into first place against Addie the cat,” Silzer said.
“Tuna is an expert in stick procurement. It’s inevitable you will lose your stick in the ravine, he wants to start an off-leash registry so you will never lose your stick again. He believes in unlimited time rolling in mud puddles.”
As for how Tuna’s campaign managers fared during a busy election week?
“It’s been crazy and a lot busier than we expected, but if you’re going to enter, might as well give it all you got,” said Silzer.
On top of now co-president Addie, a few cats made a run for the presidency, though it’s not completely sanctioned by officials.
“I have to admit, it’s a pretty feline thing to do to try to hone in on a dog election … manipulate it to the feline advantage. I don’t know what a cat is going to do if elected president of the off-leash area,” Knight laughed on Monday. “I would be concerned about a cat clawing back freedoms in the ravine.”
“I saw the posters were up Friday and I knew within an hour what I had to do. We were down there Friday afternoon and we’ve been campaigning the whole week since,” said Pavlek.
As for the role of the president?
“We think it’s going to be more of a ceremonial title. We’re thinking probably a one-year term. We feel that’s a substantial contribution. There might be another election next year,” Knight said.
There has been a donation page created to keep up the good-spirited nature of the election.
“Addie and Tuna have chosen the Edmonton Humane Society as the spot for donations,” said Knight. “We invite voters to contribute. We think it’s a great way to give back to our furry friends. I think a lot of people are leaning on them for emotional support these days.”
You can make a donation and read more about the election results here.