A new dog rescue group in Winnipeg is going to the unusual length of paying for owners to surrender their mistreated pets.

“We will do basically whatever it takes to get that dog out,” said Shannon Brown, the director of Free and Alive Rescue.

The agency’s latest rescue is Kayla, a four-year-old Pomeranian dog who was in bad shape when she first arrived.

Kayla has now had two surgeries to correct hernias and clogged nostrils.

Free and Alive Rescue

Shannon Brown, the director of Free and Alive Rescue, holds up rescue dog Kayla on Tuesday. Kayla has had multiple surgeries to correct hernias and plugged nostrils. (Caroline Barghout)

Brown said that was something the previous owner failed to do.

“These dogs are being bred repeatedly over and over again, and their veterinary needs aren’t being met,” said Brown. “Basically myself and the other girls in the rescue can’t live with that. We have to get the dog out.”

Sometimes, neglected dogs are sold on Kijiji to unsuspecting buyers, Brown said.

Brown is already the director of Manitoba Small Dog Rescue, but she started FAAR in January. The agency takes complaints about mistreated animals and tries to intervene.

If the owners aren’t willing to surrender the dog for free, they’ll have a volunteer pose as a buyer and purchase the animal.

But Winnipeg Humane Society officials caution just because a dog appears to be abused or neglected, doesn’t mean that’s the case according to Manitoba animal laws.

Of the 4,000 complaints the society received last year, only a small number were removed from their homes.

“For the humane society, that is often one of the most aggravating and upsetting statements for the public to hear – when we can’t do anything more,” said Aileen White of the Winnipeg Humane Society.

White said the society investigates every complaint according to the guidelines of the province’s Animal Care Act, but sometimes its hands are tied.

Brown thinks that means the province’s animal protection laws need to be updated. Until then, she said she plans to rescue as many dogs as she can.