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Animal rescue partnership reaches new heights

North Star Air donated more than $30,000 to the OSPCA, as 20 cats and dogs from remote communities arrive in city, destined for Southern Ontario.
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THUNDER BAY - A North Star Air flight from the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation touched down in Thunder Bay Tuesday afternoon with some special passengers in tow - a total of 13 dogs and five cats along with a team of veterinarians.

“This program was a transfer program where animals were transferred from Big Trout Lake to Peterborough,” said Judy Decicco, chair of the Northern Animals Services committee with the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

“We like to do the transfer first, that way the owned animals can be looked after at a spay neuter clinic. This group was from Southern Ontario and they volunteer their services all over the world and this was the first Northern Ontario community they have done, but they want to do more.”

On Tuesday, the OSPCA also received a cheque from North Star Air for $30,312, which Decicco said will go a long way in helping transfer unowned or rescued animals from remote Northern Ontario communities.

“As you know airfare and transportation in the north is very costly,” she said. “This will go a long way to helping us.”

According to John Beardy, community relations with North Star Air, assisting northern communities with overpopulation of animals is a needed service.  

“I know many communities time and time again experience an overpopulation of pets, whether its dogs, and even recently, we hear across the country that some communities have terrible incidents and maybe even causing fatalities because of an overpopulation of stray dogs,” he said.

“So for North Star Air, it’s a needed service and we are proud to assist the SPCA and communities at this level to address the overpopulation of pets.”

The OSPCA was first approached by North Star Air a couple of years ago to help transfer dogs from Whitefish Bay.  

“Since then, we developed quite a partnership and friendship with them and they are committed to helping us helping animals in the north,” Decicco said.

Beardy added that the donation is just another way of showing their support for the OSPCA and the communities they service.

“Not only is a monetary contribution, but with our aircraft and providing the charters or passenger aircrafts to move veterinarians,” he said. “It’s part of a whole package that North Star is happy to assist the community.”

Tammy McConomy, a volunteer with Beat the Heat, a Kenora-based spay and neuter program, was one of the volunteers who travelled north for the program.

She said all the animals were in very good health and while there the program spayed or neutered 72 animals.

“The community has been really good at trying to control their population up there,” she said. “They have been working for quite a while now with other groups to take animals out and rehome them, send them to shelters, and the spay and neuter clinic was part of that whole process in controlling the population.”

The animals that arrived on Tuesday will be transported to the Peterborough Humane Society later today where they will be assessed by a veterinarian again and then put up for adoption.

“It’s awesome,” McConomy said. “They are really nice animals and they deserve a nice home.”