News / Calgary

Animal rescuers moving strays out of the cold to Calgary

Dogs from remote communities are bring brought to the city to be placed in loving homes

In January alone, AARCS took in 168 dogs, well above their typical 90, said executive director Deanna Thompson.

Courtesy AARCS

In January alone, AARCS took in 168 dogs, well above their typical 90, said executive director Deanna Thompson.

Local animal rescues are feeling the chill as winter weather has left more strays out in the cold needing immediate help.

Calgary-based Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society sends teams to collect animals from rural and remote communities and First Nations in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

In January alone, they took in 168 dogs, well above their typical 90, said AARCS executive director Deanna Thompson.

Another 63 animals – 18 dogs and 45 cats – were en route home to Calgary Thursday night after a team drove 13 hours each way to two communities in rural Manitoba that had reached out to AARCS for emergency help.

The organization only holds onto animals for a few days while their medical needs are met and any necessary quarantine periods pass. After that, they're released to foster families until they can be adopted.

AARCS is asking the public for towels, used or new, to swaddle their new recruits. They also always need cash, supplies like laundry detergent and bleach, and more foster families, Thompson said.

There are animal shelters closer to the remote communities, but AARCS is available and willing to send a team, and with temperatures -30 or even lower, “It's just so urgent,” Thompson said.

Calgary-based Saving Grace, is about to make a rescue trip as well, she added, while another group regularly sends medical teams to spay and neuter animals to help attack the root cause of the issue.

“In some areas, we've been told dogs and cats have been freezing to death,” Thompson said. “Some ... are looking to do dog culls.”

That's true, said Kelsey Scoular, manager of AARC's cat program, who spoke to Metro by phone while on her way home from the rescue trip.

“Unfortunately people do that,” she said. “Without the resources (in the) far north, they don't have the vet clinics, they don't have animal control. They have no options.”

With the extreme cold, small local rescues in the north are overrun, and have limited potential foster and adoptive families, she added. That's where AARCS comes in, with “a second chance.”

The team of two volunteers and two staff packed as many animals as they could safely fit into kennels in two vans, Scoular said, including some with frostbite, a puppy that had been hurt in a scrap with an adult dog, and an emaciated pit bull mix that had been living outside and nursing 11 tiny puppies, all now safely on their way to Calgary.

Scoular declined to name the communities that surrendered the animals, saying they reached out to AARCS for help and they want to maintain a good relationship. AARCS conducted the mission with help from a local rescue group, Strays That Can't Pay, based in Elkhorn, Man.

The Calgary Humane Society has also seen a spike in calls in recent days about strays and pets left out in the cold, spokeswoman Sage Pullen McIntosh said, adding the shelter is not overwhelmed.

"We just want to remind people in the cold weather, that if it's too cold for them, it's likely too cold for their pet."

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