Dogs 'not surviving the night': Group seeks donations to build insulated shelters in northern Manitoba

A group of animal welfare activists are asking for help raising supplies and money to give dogs in northern communities a warm place to sleep.

The doghouses will be transported to Norway House Cree Nation and Sagkeeng First Nation

Two puppies in a warmed dog house in Norway House Cree Nation. (Submitted by Norway House Animal Rescue)

A group of animal welfare activists are asking for help to give dogs in northern Manitoba communities a warm place to sleep.

Janelle McLeod is collecting cash donations and supplies to build shelters for dogs who are dying from the cold through an initiative she's calling the Warming Hearts Project, a collaboration with doghouse makers Shadow's Mission.

"Puppies, even though they may have shelter — or adult dogs that are injured, or have short fur — are not surviving the night in these cold temperatures," said McLeod.

She runs Partners in Paws, which provides dog training and play groups, and has been volunteering in animal rescue for 10 years.

Staff at Norway House Animal Rescue try to keep a dog warm with fabric. (Submitted by Norway House Animal Rescue)

She said the group wants to build heaters for doghouses that use a 40-watt light bulb, which can generate enough heat to keep a dog alive through the night.

The shelters will then be transported to Norway House Cree Nation and Sagkeeng First Nation.

'Communities trying hard to protect them'

"There are thousands of dogs that are still homeless in northern communities all across Manitoba, and the communities are trying really hard to protect them," McLeod said.

"This is just my little way to try and help a situation that, to me, just is dire and should not be happening.… [As I'm lying in bed] I'm thinking of how many dogs are now shivering and are going to die," McLeod said.

A warming doghouse created by Lloyd Carmine of Shadow’s Mission. A fundraiser starting this weekend will allow the group to create more doghouses. (Submitted by Shadow’s Mission)

Debra Vandekerkhove of Norway House Animal Rescue says heated doghouses can also help prevent the spread of disease and infection.

Often the dogs that are coming into animal services care haven't had any veterinarian work, and they may have internal or external parasites, or diseases.

"A lot of our volunteers up north are bringing their dogs into their houses, " Vandekerkhove said.

"It could potentially affect their house, where their home is shut down. If the dog has parvovirus, we cannot have any more animals … in care that are unvaccinated in their home."

The animal rescue group has been trying to keep a number of shelters operating for dogs coming into care in both Norway House and Cross Lake, though a lack of supplies has made the job difficult.

A fundraiser starting this weekend is focused on creating insulated doghouses for Manitoba's northern communities. (Submitted by Shadow's Mission)

"We don't have a lot of resources up in some of the northern communities, like hardware stores that have supplies like insulation and wood to be able to make doghouses," she said.

Lloyd Camire of Shadow's Mission, which partnered with McLeod for the Warming Hearts Project, is a retiree who makes the heated doghouses.

He said a bare-bones doghouse costs about $50 in supplies, though he can often find salvaged wood. He also uses a linoleum floor, so the shelter can be easily cleaned out, and from there the structure is packed with hay to keep it warm.

McLeod says if people are looking to donate, they can bring money or new or used materials to a donation drive at the Partners in Paws play group, Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Sunday play group will be at Sprockett's Doggy Day Camp at 975 Thomas Ave. in Winnipeg.

The Warming Hearts Project will be collecting donations until Feb. 3.

Supplies needed

If you're looking to donate, the Warming Hearts Project is accepting cash donations, or new or used materials. In particular, the group needs:

  • 3/8th to ½-inch plywood.
  • 2x4 or 2x3 construction wood.
  • 8x1½-inch screws.
  • 1½x8-foot ridged insulation.
  • Plastic house wrap.
  • Poly plastic.
  • Shingles.
  • Electric octagon boxes.
  • Outdoor extension cords.
  • Bx cables.
  • Nylon cables.
  • Male plugs.
  • Plastic light fixtures.
  • 40-watt light bulbs.
  • Old metal paint cans.


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