Winnipeg dog rescue raises funds online, in community amid pandemic

Ty from Spirit of Hope is looking for his forever home. Adriana Zhang / Global News

A Winnipeg dog rescue has had to get creative to raise funds and find fosters for its pups amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Normally, Spirit of Hope Rescue would hold adoption events at pet stores, where people could meet and play with the rescued dogs before potentially fostering or adopting them — but the novel coronavirus scuttled their typical plans.

“We can’t do our gatherings at the stores,” said Sherry Olford, a rescue volunteer. “We showcase our pups and our dogs that are up for adoption.”

The group regularly rescues stray dogs in northern Manitoba communities — in mid-March, before the pandemic shuttered businesses, schools and disrupted much of Manitoba’s normal life, the rescue brought 108 strays back to Winnipeg from four communities.

READ MORE: Spirit of Hope Rescue is looking for “forever homes” for northern puppies

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But helping those pups costs money, Olford said — the rescue needs money for vet bills, dog food, kennels, toys and flights up north.

“It’s been hard getting the word out,” she said.

Normally the group takes donations at adoption events and sells crafts and other goods to raise cash.

But with pet stores shuttered, it took a little ingenuity to make the money Spirit of Hope Rescue needs.

Volunteers have taken to collecting beer cans, bottles and other refundable aluminum cans to make the money they need.

“One of our team members put it out to her community and raised over $600 in a week just on beer cans and beer bottles,” Olford said.

Can refunds, plus weekly online auctions, have helped keep the rescue in the black — a recent auction raised $2,000.

“It’s definitely helped with a lot of our vet bills, for sure, every cent counts, right,” Olford said.

READ MORE: Good dogs: Winnipeggers embrace pet adoption, fostering during coronavirus pandemic

But with so many people stuck at home while COVID-19 caused either unemployment or work-from-home orders, the rescue has seen a deluge of adoptions or fostering offers.

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“The blessing has been that a lot more people are stepping up to foster because they are home,” she said, adding that one point, the rescue had just seven dogs left out of 37 that had recently been rescued.

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