“Ruh-roh,” to quote Scooby-Doo, was the operative response as NWT SPCA staff watched vanloads of South Slave residents arrive in Yellowknife following flood-related evacuations last month.

“Do all these people have dogs?” Craig Taggart, NWT SPCA manager, wondered aloud before the passenger doors even slid open.

Fortunately, most of the damp dogs and felines fleeing the flood found temporary shelter in Yellowknife businesses, such as Crooked Whisker Pet Supplies, Qimmiq Kennels, Happy Pooch Grooming and Pet Supplies and Borealis Kennels – or in dry, pet-friendly households, said Taggart.

“The community stepped up,” he said.

The NWT SPCA shelter did take in six cats and one surrendered dog as a result of the flood, but it wasn’t the furry deluge it could have been.

Year-round, such volunteerism is what permits the NWT SPCA to do what it does.

In addition to the Hay River cats, the NWT SPCA is currently sheltering 22 dogs and nine puppies. Most of these animals need at least two walks outside per day.

“Our volunteers are essential,” said Taggart. “Volunteers provide more socialization for the dogs – some of these dogs get walked by 30 people in a week, which is super-beneficial for the dogs.”

Volunteers walk shelter dogs alone with an earbud plugged in, or show up with a friend to chat with. Some parents and children teams walk dogs regularly, as well.

“I think it’s a good opportunity to get myself outside and have motivation to walk with someone who is more motivated than me,” said Myranda Bolstad, who walked a “super-chill” long-haired mix named Maggie earlier this week, among other lucky dogs.

When Maggie and the other dogs are getting their exercise with the volunteers outside, staff have time to work one-on-one with certain pets or to finish up detailed work that demands their full attention.

“Volunteers help alleviate the workload for staff,” said Taggart.

In addition to sheltering the Hay River cats and dog, the NWT SPCA also helped direct food to the Hay River animal shelter during the evacuation.

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