The Stettler-based Animal Haven Rescue League is putting out the call for bolstered community support as the COVID-19 pandemic takes a toll on operations.
The registered non-profit society animal rescue group, originally formed in 2008, consists of a dedicated group of volunteers who work with surrendered or abandoned animal across the region.
“The most challenging thing is that we are a non-profit and we are totally run by volunteers,” said Lylas McKnight, a board member with Animal Haven Rescue. She also noted how with the pandemic, they can’t hold any fundraising events.
“It really puts a cramp on our income. So this is where our big challenge is coming in right now.” On the plus side, adoptions of the animals to forever homes has increased.
“People are at home more, and they have more time,” she said. “In the last three weeks, I’ve adopted out three cats and there is a possible home for one more.
“So the adoptions do seem to be a little bit more prominent than they were,” she said. “That’s one plus – the animals are finding forever homes, and that’s one of our missions is to make that happen.
“But our biggest challenge right now is getting the fundraising going so we can continue to support and take in new in-takes, because we’ve had to shut that down for right now,” she explained.
“And with the adoptions, it’s a little more challenging because we do a ‘meet and greet’ – so now we have do that that virtually which is different. We also have do a home inspection before they are adopted out as well, so again it’s the same thing – we have to do it virtually where the person takes you through their house and shows you what their plans are,” she said. “We’ve been adapting to these situations and trying to do our best to still make it all work.”
As McKnight pointed out, as a non-profit organization, Animal Haven Rescue relies on donations and fundraising to cover the veterinary costs incurred when they vaccinate, spay/neuter, de-worm and provide emergency care for the animals.
“The balance of our funds are used to provide support for our foster families as we do not have a dedicated facility to house the animals in our care.”
Alongside any financial donations, another need is for more foster families to take in a pet.
“What people sometimes don’t realize with our situation is that because we are run by volunteers, we don’t have a facility here in Stettler. A lot of times we will get calls saying there is an immediate need for us to take an animal for whatever reason, and because we have no facility to go and actually pick up the animal and keep it in care until we can get a foster home in place, it can take days to find a home that is actually available,” she said.
Currently, there are about 16 cat foster homes for example.
“Some may not have any in their homes right now, but they can’t take them for certain reasons. So although we do have those 16 homes, not all of them are available at all times,” she said.
So the more help in terms of foster homes, the better.
McKnight said what would also be extremely helpful would be if some folks would sign up as emergency foster homes.
“It would be a huge impact if we could get some foster homes, and especially if we could get some emergency foster homes – someone who is available for those emergency situations,” she added.
For McKnight, it’s a joy to serve with such a worthwhile organization.
“I like to see the animals flourishing,” she said. “One of my cats now came from a rough situation, so when she first arrived she was very scared. To see the changes they go through is (wonderful). Another example was when I had a neighbourhood stray and it took me about six months of working with him to gain his trust.
“He would come to my house every day to eat, but I could’t go near him,” she recalled. “But after about six months I was able to gain his trust enough where he would come up and eat beside me. And one day he actually he came right up to my steps, and he let me pick him up. I saw he had a wound on his foot so I took him to the vet.
“He then came into my house and stayed put, and he was the sweetest cat. He had been scared and alone for so long, he just wasn’t trusting. So we got him fixed up and he got a foster home! He’s now doing wonderfully. So you can actually make a change in their lives.
“That’s the biggest thing – being able to see the changes and to see them having a good life.”
For more information about adoption, donating or signing on as a foster home for Animal Haven Rescue League, check out www.animalhavenrescue.ca or call (403) 741-6128.
You can also email them at email@example.com or find them on Facebook at ‘Animal Haven Rescue League’.