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‘These little buggers are tough’: Puppies abandoned on Alberta highway are in recovery

Puppies were abandoned along an Alberta highway on Jan. 14, 2021. Courtesy: Alberta RCMP

Three puppies that were abandoned along an Alberta highway earlier this month are on the mend at the Bonnyville & District SPCA, northeast of Edmonton.

Read more: RCMP investigating after 3 puppies found abandoned on rural Alberta highway

On Jan. 14, Elk Point RCMP officers found the three animals abandoned along a rural stretch of Highway 897 “with no houses nearby” in Frog Lake First Nations.

The shelter took them in on Jan. 19 and placed them in quarantine and intensive care at a vet clinic.

“It was an emergency situation, and the puppies were in bad shape,” said Charlene Rask, vice-president of Bonnyville & District SPCA, on Wednesday.

“We didn’t know if they would live or die. That first three days [were] just critical. We just had to wait, and after that three days, when they made it through that far, we knew that they had a pretty good shot.”

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Max, one of the puppies abandoned on an Alberta highway this month, is pictured at the shelter. Courtesy: Bonnyville & District SPCA

It’s a good thing the shelter took them to the vet because the pups — estimated to be about three months old — have an intestinal virus called canine parvovirus.

“Parvo is a highly contagious, nasty, nasty sickness that you would never want to wish your worst friend’s dogs,” Rask said.

Treatment is expensive, she explained, but the shelter was fortunate to have an emergency fund to pay for the care.

“If it wouldn’t have been topped up, these puppies would never have had a chance because normally, parvo puppies, especially going into a shelter, it’s highly likely they’ll be put down because the expenses are way too high for any non-profit group to try to save them,” Rask said.

‘You can tell that they’re fighting’

The dogs are now recovering at the shelter.

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“It’s all in the eyes. You can tell when they first came in how broken they were, I guess you could say. Now there’s that little light — you can tell that they’re fighting,” Rask said.

“For any pup of this age to have been left in those conditions on the side of a winter highway and then to have this disease on top of that, to have fought through that, these little buggers are tough. So we’re pretty excited about their future.”

Hank, one of the puppies abandoned on an Alberta highway this month, is pictured at the shelter. Courtesy: Bonnyville & District SPCA

Not ready for adoption yet

The animals are not ready for adoption just yet, but when they are, the SPCA wants to ensure it’s a good fit.

“Right now, they’re still weak. They’re still gaining strength, and we have an adoption process that we go through. Anybody that wants to fill out an application form is more than welcome to at any time,” Rask said.

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“This sickness takes a lot out of an animal. So right now, they might seem like they’re very calm and docile, and we may find out that they’re really hyper and they need a different type of family. So it will be a few weeks before they’re up for adoption.”

Lucy, one of the puppies abandoned on an Alberta highway this month, is pictured at the shelter. Courtesy: Bonnyville & District SPCA

Spay, neuter your pets

Rask explained that a mother of a large-breed dog can have 10 to 13 pups in a litter and two litters a year.

“Unfortunately, when we have unwanted litters, this is exactly what can happen and this is why it’s so important for people to spay and neuter their animals… so that these unwanted babies don’t end up here and go through something like this,” she said.

To donate to the shelter, visit its Facebook page.

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