The Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter in Smithers, B.C. is trying to build a winter home for a pair of river otters rescued over the summer.

The two pups were found dehydrated and malnourished on a highway near Prince George in June, before being transported to the shelter in northwest B.C.

"We assume the river was running really high at the time and they got washed out of their den," said shelter founder and manager Angelika Langen.

"At that age, otters can't swim very well yet so they almost drowned and dragged themselves onto the highway."

Normally, the shelter sends aquatic animals like beavers and otters to a different shelter with specialized aquatic facilities, but no one had room.

Now, Langen's team is working to prepare a winter home for the pair so they can be rehabilitated and released into the wild next spring.

River otters Northern Lights

Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter in Smithers, B.C. usually sends aquatic animals to specialized facilities, but this year couldn't find room elsewhere. (Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter)

The team hopes to create an enclosed swimming area that is protected from the Bulkley Valley's winter weather.

"It has to be insulated, it has to have a swimming pool, everything has to be insulated and water-proofed," she said.

"They need to be able to get into the water in order for their organs to function normally, so we need one room that is frost-free and where we can put water in to swim."

The shelter has raised about $5,000 of the $15,000 budget and it hopes to raise the balance soon as temperatures are already dropping.

In the meantime, though, the pups are enjoying the fall, playing in piles of leaves gathered up by the shelter's crew.

With files from Carolina de Ryk.

For more stories from northern B.C., subscribe to CBC Daybreak North on Facebook.