Carstairs Animal Shelter brought back from the brink

Pawsitive Haven Animal Rescue had almost completely emptied its bank account to get through the pandemic

CAR STAIRS — The struggle to survive pandemic-related obstacles over the past two years has left Pawsitive Haven Animal Rescue on the brink of financial collapse.

“I said to the girls, ‘This could be it, this could be the end. I don’t know what we’re going to do, said Ashley Reid, who along with Sheena Forsythe and Kayleigh Coates is co-owner of the Carstairs-based nonprofit.

Prior to COVID-19, Reid said the organization would host a variety of fundraising activities to help defray the costs of not only housing rescue and surrender cats and dogs, but also providing care. expensive medical.

“We run solely on community donations,” she told the Albertan.

Those efforts, she said, included providing bartending services at receptions as well as hosting community events such as a steak and lobster dinner and a show and shine.

“So without being able to organize these events, it was incredibly difficult to maintain the funds,” she said, adding that some brainstorming sessions resulted in alternative options, including a bacon as well as a chocolate fundraiser.

“We tried to come up with every possible idea,” she said. “Pretty much everything we could do with social distancing, we tried.”

But sometimes, as the saying goes, when it rains, it pours, and she said the animal shelter — financially strained as it already was — found itself dealing with a few serious medical cases that required the veterinary care.

“So our vet bills have gotten incredibly high and the funds just keep getting lower and lower,” she said.

One such case was a cat named Rupert, who was brought in a few weeks ago.

“He was completely wild when we first got him from settlement,” Reid said. “We couldn’t even get near him.”

But over time, she said the staff were finally able to approach her, and that’s when they realized Rupert was deliberately avoiding using one of his front paws.

“We had to put him to sleep and do an x-ray, and it turned out his leg was completely broken,” she said. “So it had to be amputated.”

Paying that bill didn’t leave huge reservations, she said.

“We had $18 left in our bank account,” she said, adding that they had no choice but to freeze the inflows. “We are not taking in any more animals until we have sufficient funds to ensure we are able to care for other animals.”

When she spoke with the AlbertanReid said the shelter was home to eight animals – two of which, including Rupert, remained on treatment – and added that the break was still in place.

“We’re just trying to make sure all of that is taken care of before we take on more animals,” she said.

Lamenting the idea of ​​throwing in the towel motivated them to step up their brainstorming efforts, and a close friend of Reid suggested a few options, including jail and bail.

By making a few calls in the community to see who might be inclined to get “arrested”, the organization was able to rally a number of volunteers willing to go behind bars for a good cause. All they had to do to regain their freedom was raise sufficient bail.

“We ‘arrested’ Carolin from the Carstairs Hair Company for giving the best haircuts and told everyone that if they wanted her back they had to get her out of jail on bail,” Reid said. “And it was actually super successful and it was so much fun.”

Ten people were placed in the slammer, with their entire bail set at $500 each for a fundraising goal of $5,000, she said, adding later in a follow-up that at by early April, they had all been released on bail.

“Honestly, I was overwhelmed with the number of responses. I didn’t think it would be such a hit,” she said. “It almost brought me to tears that people are still so passionate about us for the rescue in Carstairs…it just reminded me why we do what we do and how amazing our community is.”

Anyone who missed the opportunity to contribute a few dollars to help bail out the prisoners can still donate through the group’s website at

“Or they can come to the shelter and donate,” Reid said. “There are many ways to donate, and we appreciate everyone’s help.”

Rendered Pandemic Pets

When asked if the rescue had seen any increases after people who earlier in the pandemic bought or adopted pets to pass the time later found themselves regretting the decision amid restrictions were starting to soften, she replied, “That’s good, yeah.”

“We had a lot of surrenders. As soon as people started going back to work, we were full,” she said. “And even with our admission freeze, we had a dog just drop off at the front door with all his stuff and a note the other day. We always have our door open for those kinds of situations.

Although she stressed that the rescue remains on an admissions freeze and reminds residents that there is no open door policy, Reid added that turning its back on a surrender is not an option.

“Even though we probably don’t have the money to do it, we still have the heart and the passion. So it’s incredibly hard to turn them down and say no,” she said.

But there are other options for people returning to work who might have – pardon the pun – bitten off more than they can chew taking on the responsibility of a pet dog or cat for the help get through the pandemic.

“If you’re going to be working all day, we also have boarding,” Reid said, adding that their dog daycare provides space for pets outside the confines of a kennel while keeping pets away from home. house unattended, potentially damaging. furniture in the absence of the owner.

“There are other options for people who have dogs that have had all this attention, and now (the owners) are going back to work,” she said.

Depending on where a person lives, they might also consider looking for other places, she said.

“Try to contact your local boarding schools and dog daycares and get them booked,” she said. “Because you can still keep your pet and occupy it during the day.”

Pawsitive Haven Animal Rescue accommodates both pets and kennels, she said.

“We have 11 kennels,” she said, adding that the center also has two much larger whelping kennels for pregnant dogs.

The rescue is also home to feline friends who are usually brought in by city services, although many have also been cared for in the past, she said.

“We get a lot of kittens from local farms,” ​​she said. “We’re going to bottle feed, so it’s always a lot of fun. You have to be up every hour to feed them, but we love doing it.

At the time of the interview, she said Rupert was the only feline to the rescue and after his full recovery from surgery, he is now available for adoption.