News / Edmonton

Edmonton Heroes: Lyndsay Tischer rescues dogs in need

Tischer works with the Humane Animal Rescue Team, which focuses on Maskwacis and rural areas.

HART co-founder, president and board director Lyndsay Tischer with "ambassadog" Steffi, who was rescued as a stray in Maskwacis.

Kevin Maimann / Metro

HART co-founder, president and board director Lyndsay Tischer with "ambassadog" Steffi, who was rescued as a stray in Maskwacis.

Yukon and Yoshi were just puppies when their mom froze to death in the midst of a cold snap last month.

A field volunteer with the Humane Animal Rescue Team (HART) found them dehydrated, underweight, lethargic and suffering from frostbite.

Thanks to the team’s quick work, the siblings are now 10 weeks old and thriving.  

“They are cute as buttons and are going to have healthy lives that they wouldn’t have had without a rescue group being available to help them,” said HART president and co-founder Lyndsay Tischer.

“Had they not come to us that day – it was touch and go, whether they would make it.”

HART launched in 2004, with a goal of rescuing dogs in rural and reserve areas near Edmonton, after people living and working in Maskwacis (called Hobbema at the time) alerted them to a dire need in their community.

Volunteers worked with elders and community members to get started, and they never take a dog without clear consent, Tischer said.

“The overpopulation problem was significant in that area, and it was visible. There were literally hundreds of dogs that would just breed,” she said.

“Because there were no other resources at the time for a humane way to manage the population of unwanted strays, we decided that was our focus area.”

Since their work started, they’ve seen an “incredible reduction” in the number of strays in Maskwacis.

HART has a team of about 50 core volunteers, including an adoption team, foster parent recruiters, a medical team that works with veterinary partners, and a fundraising team.  

Since its inception, the organization has rescued about 1,500 dogs.

Some, like Steffi, serve as “ambassadogs” to fight back against negative perceptions of rescue dogs as being problematic.

Tischer was on a mission to collect a different rescue when Steffi jumped into the back of her SUV. Steffi was pregnant, almost bald, and turned out to be suffering from distemper – a serious viral disease that is often fatal.

Like Yukon and Yoshi, HART was able to turn Steffi’s life around after extensive medical treatment. Weeks later, she gave birth to six healthy puppies.

“There are some people who perceive that rescue dogs are broken somehow. And we love to take the opportunities to get our rescue dogs out at events and different initiatives to introduce to people how awesome rescue dogs are, how fun they can be,” Tischer said.

“They may have some baggage, they may have some experiences that they’ve lived through, but who doesn’t come with that?”

Nursing rescued dogs back to health and getting them spayed, neutered and vaccinated is not cheap – the average cost is $500, but a seriously injured dog will run into the thousands – so fundraisers are crucial to HART’s existence.

Its next major fundraiser is Eggstravaganza, an Easter egg hunt for dogs, on April 9 at Jim Galloway Park.

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