Animal shelters almost full – Winnipeg Free Press

The city’s animal shelters are facing what Winnipeg Humane Society CEO Jessica Miller calls a “perfect storm.”

Shelters such as the Humane Society are operating at near full capacity due to wildfires in the North, summer weather conditions and the pandemic.

Fur babies left behind

Residents of some Manitoba First Nations have been evacuated due to recent wildfires. But what happens to the four-legged friends left behind?

Residents of some Manitoba First Nations have been evacuated due to recent wildfires. But what happens to the four-legged friends left behind?

Members of Little Grand Rapids and Pauingassi boarded planes to Brandon and Winnipeg. “When they asked what was going to happen to their pets, they were told they will have to fend for themselves,” said Melanie Chudyk, clinic coordinator with the Manitoba Animal Alliance.

Chudyk is one of the alliance volunteers who work with the RCMP to travel back and forth to threatened communities in an attempt to feed, care for and / or rescue as many dogs as possible.

She said the group had to make tough decisions as planes and helicopters are unable to safely hold many of those who remain. “We had to select those who were the worst off. ”

Only young, elderly, injured and nursing dogs are evacuated from affected areas, Chudyk said. The group is in “crisis mode” not only because of the severity of the problem, but also because of the limits set due to the smoky conditions, she added.

The smoke has grown so strong that planes carrying supplies and volunteers cannot always take off and land in communities accessible only by air.

“We don’t know what kind of infrastructure damage these fires will cause to these communities,” Chudyk said.

Fires are closer to some communities than others, but “winds change, conditions change and fires are very unpredictable.”

In Winnipeg, the alliance “desperately needs” reception spaces to welcome and care for animals while they are in town, for as long as they need them.

“Houses can be built, goods can be redeemed again, but you cannot replace the loss of your ‘furry baby’,” Chudyk said.

– Gillian Brown

Warmer weather brings “kitten season”, during which litters are laid; the summer months generally result in fewer adoptions because people are on vacation.

But the most pressing problem is the influx of dogs and cats from northern communities evacuated by forest fires.

A week ago, the shelter welcomed 33 pets left behind after the evacuations. The company had 500 animals, which comes close to its capacity of 520.

“Taking 33 all of a sudden gets us in trouble,” she said, “but we believe no animal should be left behind.”

The shelter operates on a “caring capacity” model, which means that, if necessary, the shelter will find the right amount of space for each animal to succeed and thrive until adopted.

For Miller, even as the shelter approaches full capacity, it’s not a question of whether or not the animals will be turned away. On the contrary, the shelter struggles to know how long it can keep the animals. It depends on its host network to welcome the animals once they are no longer sick or injured, because no matter what, “we will never refuse a sick or injured animal,” she said. .

Some people have been economically affected by the pandemic. Those with pets may not be able to afford food and veterinary care.

Although the company has a food bank and an emergency medical service that covers the costs of extraordinary cases, the shelter, like most others in the city, is dependent on donations. However, since the start of the pandemic, donations have fallen.

At D’Arcy ARC, director Tanya Tranq said resources are scarce at the best of times, and the pandemic has made things more difficult.

“Animal shelters in general, they needed support before and they need support in particular now,” she said.

“I don’t think there is an area of ​​life that hasn’t been affected by the pandemic, and that also includes animal shelters. It’s something where public support is still needed and essential for keep doing what you are doing. ”

Like the Humane Society, the D’arcy’s ARC is receiving more calls than in the past.

Normally, the shelter works strictly with stray animals, but due to the pandemic it has also taken on abandoned animals, which Tranq also attributes to the pandemic.

Miller, right, says the shelter will find the right space for each animal to thrive. Sarah Harrison, Adoption Counselor for The Humane Society, holds Michael, a four-month-old rabbit.

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Miller, right, says the shelter will find the right space for each animal to thrive. Sarah Harrison, an adoption counselor for a humanitarian society, hugs Michael, a four month old rabbit.

The work goes beyond welcoming and rehabilitating animals. For the shelter, it’s also about educating pet owners and making sure that when an animal is adopted, it doesn’t come back.

“This animal is not for now, it is for a lifetime,” she said.

Much like other shelters, the Winnipeg Pet Rescue Shelter has seen a sharp drop in donations, but there has been a silver lining.

Since the closures began, the shelter has adopted more older cats and dogs than in the past.

Founder and director Carla Martinelli-Irvine says people crave companionship amid the isolation of the pandemic.

“There has been so much loneliness during this COVID, and I think cats have taken a lot of the loneliness away from people. ”

However, “the cages fill up as quickly as they come out,” she said.

The shelter is always full and has a waiting list for non-emergency cases, but “if we think an animal is injured or neglected, then we find room.”

Martinelli-Irvine said the shelter focuses on animals that have nowhere to go and stay until they find their forever homes.

“Once they reach the shelter, no more harm will happen to them.”

“They don’t get beaten, they don’t get burned, they are no longer unwanted.”

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