Prince Albert SPCA dealing with arrival of dogs from northern communities
More than 150 dogs have been taken in due to the wildfires
John Morash's duties as Executive Director of the Prince Albert SPCA include many things, but unloading a truck with 15,000 pounds of donated dog food from across the province is not normally on the list.
But for the past three weeks, Morash and his staff have been making it up on the fly.
"I don't know if this has ever been done before in Prince Albert," said Morash as he wiped the sweat from his forehead.
The SPCA has taken in more than 150 dogs and cats from northern communities affected by wildfires.
Most of the animals have owners who were not allowed to bring their pets with them to evacuation centres.
On July 6th, Morash and his team sprang into action.
"We sent a convoy of six trucks to La Ronge to pick up 44 dogs, one cat and a turtle. We brought them back and had 20 cars lined up with families ready to take them in as fosters."
A second trip was made to La Ronge followed by three more full ambulance loads of dogs from the Northern Animal Rescue.
Morash is proud to say his shelter has processed, vaccinated and found foster homes for 150 dogs that were left behind. He credits social media for helping to find these dogs temporary homes.
"We put out a call on Facebook and people just responded. We had a number of fosters in the system but then we had a number of new people step up and want to get involved."
More work to do
There are a few dogs from La Ronge and other northern communities still waiting for a foster home in or around Prince Albert. They are waiting patiently at the shelter, which was built last year.
What concerns Morash now is what happens once people start returning home. It is up to owners to get in touch with the SPCA and claim their pet.
"We suspect there are going to be a number of unclaimed animals and at that point they will become custody of the SPCA," Morash explained. "We'll have to spay, neuter these animals. Pay for medical treatments. It costs us an average of 900 dollars per dog if they stay with us for a month."
Morash expects around half of the 150 dogs will go unclaimed, leaving the SPCA with a bill of more than $60,000.
That is why the shelter is focused now on fundraising for the anticipated costs of caring for these northern animals.
But that's not to say Morash is not grateful for the generosity shown by people across Saskatchewan. He has the sweat stains and sore muscles to prove it.
"The amazing generosity of the people of Saskatchewan. It's just overwhelming. We've been overwhelmed with people who want to foster, want to help volunteer, want to donate food. People just rise to the occasion in this province."
Donations can be made to the Prince Albert SPCA by visiting their website, princealbertspca.com, or by calling 306-763-6122.