One of North America’s most iconic animal lovers was actress Betty White, a woman devoted to supporting a slew of charities and shelters. Upon her death on New Year’s Eve, 2021, it was reported most of her $75 million-dollar fortune was willed to her dogs and agencies supporting pets.
Not everyone has White’s deep pockets. However, most of us have a few disposable dollars we can donate in support of companion animals, especially now that Second Chance Animal Rescue Society (SCARS) is opening a new facility in Morinville for cats and dogs.
“It’s our 20th anniversary year, and we are excited to realize our dream of expanding operations. This new rescue centre will save lives by allowing us to accommodate more of the growing number of urgent requests for animal intake,” said Sylvia Christiansen, SCARS acting executive director.
The 3,800-square-foot facility, formerly a kennel operated by Morinville Veterinary Clinic, is currently undergoing renovations both indoors and in the adjacent outdoor space. SCARS’s goal is to raise $30,000 to fund the items required to efficiently operate a small animal intake facility. As of July 21, they have raised nearly $8,000.
The items SCARS requires include outdoor fencing for dogs, veterinary cages for cats, a commercial quality clothes washer, and sea cans to store supplies. The list even includes a surveillance system to monitor animals both indoors and outdoors when no one is watching them.
“For example, when we would put dogs outside to run around for exercise during the day and a staff or volunteer must step away for some reason. Another situation is if a pet is recovering from an injury or surgery, we can check on them remotely during the late night or very early morning hours,” said Lori Trudgeon, communications coordinator.
SCARS was originally co-founded in the Athabasca region by Sylvia Christiansen and Jan Pysyk to rescue dogs in Alberta’s remote north. Rescued animals were checked by veterinarians and placed with caring foster parents until a forever-family adopted them. The Morinville intake-facility is the first that SCARS will open outside Athabasca.
“We were looking for the right facility. This one was already set up for animals and we didn’t need to do too much renovating. It was easy to drive to from Athabasca, and it was close to Edmonton where volunteers who foster dogs can come and pick up supplies,” Trudgeon said.
SCARS takes in pets that are unwanted or slated for euthanasia from remote-area dog pounds and small-town veterinary clinics acting as pounds. The society also shelters stray and abandoned pets, many of which are sick, injured, or pregnant.
As with every intake-facility in Canada, SCARS is struggling with adoptions. Last year, it received 1,100 cats and 900 dogs. From January to June of this year, SCARS has already received 960 animals. Trudgeon has her theories about the recent slow adoptions.
“People are going on summer holidays and may not want to care for a pet. Other people are going back to work, and they may want to wait for the fall, or it could be financial. Everybody’s feeling the effects of inflation.”
SCARS recently held the semi-annual Tails on the Trail fundraiser on July 16 at Lions Park. With the co-operation of the dog-loving community, it raised close to $20,000.
However, that portion of funding is being diverted to general revenues to maintain day-to-day activities, as well as supply food, healthcare, the spay-neuter program, bedding, toys, and other goods and services.
The Morinville building has multiple rooms where animals can be housed. This is especially beneficial in reducing the risk for transmitting disease. Kennels contain drainage areas, and there is also a grooming room and an animal wash tub. Outdoors there are two dog runs with plans to build more.
An official opening was scheduled for Aug. 1, however, it will be postponed due to renovation delays. To complete renovations, volunteers require a variety of miscellaneous items for cosmetic updates and repairs. They include paint, paint brushes and pans, shelving, ceiling tiles, and cleaners.
In addition, Trudgeon is putting out a call for volunteers in various capacities: drivers, planning fundraisers, administrative tasks, social media, marketing, and picking up donations.
“Even if you’re allergic to animals, you can still volunteer in some capacity without coming into contact with them.”