The disappearance of a donation box to help rescued dogs being cared for at the Happy Pooch Grooming and Services has led to an outpouring of support from Yellowknifers.
Tiarella Hanna, owner of the Kam Lake business, posted on the Salvagers Unite Facebook page about a donation box worth $200 that went missing on Feb. 19.
She planned to use the money to provide food and basic care for several dogs she helped rescue in Behchoko earlier this year.
“Someone stole the donation bin for the dogs I’ve been collecting food for,” Hanna wrote on social media. “I am so angry I could cry. This is a $200 bin. Please, whoever took it just return it. I can tell from the footprints it’s a person with big boots. Please do the decent thing and return the bin!”
The box, which as of Sunday had not yet been returned, had been set up at the end of the Happy Pooch driveway earlier this month, Hanna said. Sometime during the day on Feb. 19 the box went missing.
Hanna had also been collecting donated food, which people left almost daily following a rescue of dogs in Behchoko.
Last December, Behchoko Coun. Nora Wedzin contacted the NWT SPCA after a dog had been spotted at large for several weeks with a conibear trap attached to its right forepaw.
Nicole Spencer, president of the NWT SPCA, said she initially recommended that the GNWT Department of Environment and Natural Resources or the RCMP assist in locating the dog.
“We had thought it was an ENR issue because it involved a trap on this dog’s paw and I still think they should be involved to some degree,” said Spencer.
She said the hamlet got in touch with ENR and a small team was deployed to try to locate the injured animal. When that didn’t work, residents called the SPCA again in early January and Hanna was asked for help in locating the dog.
At one point, the canine was caught under a house by ENR officials in Behchoko, but it got away when its paw was detached from the trap.
Following weeks of effort by the community to catch the dog, Hanna was tasked by the SPCA to provide a trap to catch it.
The trap featured chain-link panels and a pulley with meat attached as bait, which would lure the animal inside and cause the door to close when it went for the food.
The dog, named Minky Three-Paws, was finally caught with the trap on Feb. 9 after weeks of effort.
Minky was sent to the Great Slave Animal Hospital for surgery to remove the stump of her leg. She is now recovering at Hannah’s Happy Pooch site.
But dog rescue efforts didn’t end there.
“When I was out there (in Behchoko), I came across another group of dogs in a bad state that included nine puppies that were all loose and all without shelter,” Hanna said.
She discovered that the owner of those puppies, around the Frank Channel area, actually had 26 dogs that were not being properly cared for. Fifteen of those animals ended up being surrendered by the owner and relocated to Yellowknife.
The owner was left with 11 – all males – to make the situation more manageable.
Nine puppies went to NWT SPCA, some which have since been relocated to Qimmiq Kennels while others were adopted.
Hanna kept the other six foster dogs, although four are wild and feral. The NWT SPCA shelter isn’t an option because it has limited space due to overwhelming demand.
Since Hanna’s Facebook post on Friday, a GoFundMe page was set up to raise money to help with her rescued dogs’ care. There was $1,055 from 27 donors as of Sunday morning.
Hanna also reported that an anonymous e-transfer was sent to her to help with costs for feeding the dogs about an hour after the Friday posting.
A big part of the costs has been feeding, sheltering and providing various forms of veterinarian care, including surgery and deworming.
The majority of the kibble donations are going to the dogs in Behchoko, while the four dogs she is housing are being provided hand-fed food like roasts from a slow cooker.
Hanna said she’s thankful for other donations that have included Grant Beck providing 10 insulated dog houses, two bales of straw and 50 lbs of high-fat ground chicken.
Sundog Adventures has also provided some food assistance, she said.