Animal rescue group partners with First Nations to find homes for stray dogs
Published Thursday, November 26, 2020 10:00PM EST
TORONTO -- A volunteer animal rescue group is partnering with communities in order to get veterinary services and donated items such as doghouses to those who otherwise might not have access.
Animal Rescue Foundation -- ARF for short -- has been working with numerous rural and small communities in Ontario, many of which are First Nations.
"It has taken a long time to build relationships with people and right now we are received very, very well,” Lisa Shook, one of the volunteers, told CTV News. “That has taken time with a lot of mutual respect.”
Sagamok is a northern Ontario community that reached out to ARF, after which the group made the eight-hour trek from London, Ont. to help out.
"They bring in their vets and they vaccinate pets in two days,” Patty Ann Owl, with Sagamok Animal Control, told CTV News. “The most recent number may have been 75."
Laurie Ristmae began the Animal Rescue Foundation in Ontario 18 years ago.
"We're grassroots,” Ristmae told CTV News. “We've never been the bells and whistles. We don't have a shelter location. We don't have fancy vehicles. We're not a big registered charity. It's just each individual person who can give what they can.”
ARF have teamed up with an animal hospital to offer surgeries on a “pay what you can” basis.
Spaying and neutering are a priority to ensure over-population of strays in communities is addressed.
Strays can be an issue in more remote communities because of the lack of access to animal hospitals and other animal services.
"If you have a stray dog show up on your front porch, you can't just drive it to the veterinary clinic because the veterinary clinic is hours away,” Ristmae said.
But with a little love, stray cats and dogs can become part of a family. ARF gave CTV News the example of Jade, a stray puppy who was later adopted.
"You can save a life, you can welcome in these animals. Put in the time into some training,” Ristmae said. “We have the trainers that we provide, we provide the food, all of the supplies, all of the veterinary care.”
Ultimately, the goal of ARF is to keep both communities and the animals in them safe.
"With the vaccination clinics that were brought in, we removed the [parvovirus] from the community,” Stanford Owl of Sagamok Animal Control, told CTV News, referring to a common, contagious illness that cats and dogs can get.