Edmonton

'A Christmas miracle': 5 frozen puppies rescued and revived by Christmas Day

Tessa Lee was just finishing up at work Saturday night when she got a concerned call from a woman living just west of a small town near Edmonton.

Animals had regressed to bottle feeding, requiring small meals every couple of hours

Ruby, a 10 week old dog, was found frozen outside of a reserve in a town just west of Edmonton (Tessa Lee)

Tessa Lee was finishing her shift at an Edmonton animal rescue on Saturday evening when she got a call about puppies, freezing in sub-zero temperatures outside the city.

A woman from Glenevis, Alta., a hamlet roughly 90 kilometres northwest of Edmonton, told Lee she had spotted the underweight puppies on a property near Alberta Beach.

We didn't know if they would pull through.- Tessa Lee, WHARF

Lee drove to the location, where she found five puppies fighting to live.  

"We didn't know if they would pull through," Lee said.

There were other puppies on the property that had already died, she said.

Lee, who runs animal intake for the Whitecourt Homeless Animal Rescue Foundation (WHARF) in Edmonton, said her concern mounted once she returned to the city with the rescued puppies.

All five animals had regressed to bottle feeding, requiring small meals every couple of hours.

The odds were against them, Lee said, but four of the five puppies made a speedy recovery once they were taken into her warm home, fed and treated by an on-call veterinarian.

One of the puppies, which Lee named Ruby, was unable to lift her head or any part of her body on Saturday night.

By Christmas Day, Ruby was up and hobbling over to Lee for her breakfast.

The excited dog lover whipped out her phone, took a video of the dog stumbling through her kitchen and posted it to the WHARF Facebook page.

"It's a Christmas miracle," Lee told CBC News. "She wants to live, and that's a big thing."

Videos and close-up photos are tools Lee hopes will land Ruby and her siblings a new home in the coming months.

Homeless dogs and cats stay at WHARF for approximately two months before they are adopted. The rescue foundation gives abandoned animals time to lick their wounds, providing the healthcare they need before they can be adopted by forever homes.

"It's amazing how resilient they are," Lee said.

WHARF takes in about 400 animals every year, with a steady supply from the SPCA, concerned neighbours and animal rights activists.

"It's never-ending," Lee said. "It seems like we're not even making a dent."

The busiest time of the year comes around Christmas Eve, she said, because complications can arise from the holiday season, including more attention given to homeless pets when people are travelling back to their hometowns.

"It seems like every Christmas Eve, there's an emergency," she said. "My family's already prepared to have an emergency animal at Christmas dinner with us."

Ruby's Christmas dinner with Lee on Monday will be the puppy's first full meal since the Saturday rescue, she said.

The puppies will stay at Lee's home until they gain weight, before they are put up for adoption.

anna.desmarais@cbc.ca

@anna_desmarais

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