A well-known local animal rescue, Second Chance Animal Rescue Society (SCARS) opened up a new shelter to temporarily house animals in need, northwest of Edmonton.
“This facility opened about three months ago. We’re able to house about 40-50 cats and dogs,” said Amanda Annetts, the rescue’s intake coordinator.
“We needed this facility so bad for SCARS because the intake demand is so incredibly high right now.”
While SCARS is seeing a good number of adoptions, the requests for help continue to pile up.
“Every day I’ll wake up to 10 to 15 messages for cats alone. Sylvie, our president, handles dogs and she’s in the same boat,” Annetts said.
“Whether they’re dumped, whether they’re strays, or whether they’re surrenders, it’s just been a relentless season for all rescues.”
Right now, SCARS has more than 400 animals in care — double the 200 or so they’re used to.
The Westlock Veterinary Center is performing 15 to 20 spay and neuter surgeries for them every week. But now, SCARS has additional help just next door.
“We do work with Morinville vet to help with vaccinations, vet checkups, if someone comes in sickly, it’s just so easy,” Annetts explained.
The new location also means a fresh group of volunteers, including around 20 staff from nearby the Champion Pet Foods factory.
Christine Pendlebury is Champion’s director of product development and innovation. She says she and her coworkers are swinging by on their lunch breaks to help.
“Change litter boxes, do whatever is needed. And then also walk the dogs and we’re hoping to have dogs in our office to help with socialization,” she explained.
Pendlebury said Champion Pet Foods is also regularly donating food to SCARS.
The new shelter allows the rescue to help in smaller communities as well.
“We do get a lot of calls and requests from around the area — even in Gibbons, Morinville, Cardiff — those areas where there are stray drop-offs,” Annetts said.
Lori Trudgeon has been volunteering for SCARS since 2008, doing all kinds of different work: from being the communications coordinator, to fostering, to dog walking and helping with spay and neuter clinics.
“I know that the animals are cold, they’re hungry, they’re frightened, they’re injured and I can’t sleep at night knowing they’re out there without trying to help in some capacity,” Trudgeon said.
One of the volunteer programs she’s passionate about is called Walls for Winter.
“We build dog shelters that are insulated. We take them to communities and offer people who can’t afford to spay and neuter their pets a free spay or neuter and then we also give them a dog shelter,” she explained.
“They make a massive difference. They’re the difference between life and death for a lot of animals in the communities.”
Trudgeon said groups of volunteers who can build the shelters are always appreciated — as are supplies.
SCARS is still looking for additional volunteers to take the dogs on walks and cuddle the cats in care.
Donations are also desperately needed.
“We always need food, we’re in need of litter, puppy food, wet cat or kitten food is also on the list — we could not have enough of it,” Annetts said.
The average adult dog or cat is spending a month in care, while puppies and kittens tend to be adopted in about 10 to 15 days, SCARS said.
Anyone interested in adopting an animal should contact SCARS before heading to the shelter.
“So you would actually fill out an application online and then we contact you and you can come down and meet your match,” Annetts explained.
“(Pets) can be such an asset to your life. If you’re lonely they’re your best friend, if you’re sad at the end of a work day, they will make you laugh. They will get you to exercise,” Trudgeon said.
“They give so much more than they take from us.”
SCARS also has a shelter further north in Athabasca that primarily houses pets which are not able to be adopted out — be it for medical or behavioural reasons — and the organization’s adoptable animals are looked after via foster care in private homes.
SCARS is almost entirely volunteer operated and relies on money raised through memberships, donations, sponsorships, grants and other fundraising efforts. Anyone who is able to donate, or become a corporate sponsor, can find more information on the SCARS website.
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