THUNDER BAY - Staff and volunteers with the Thunder Bay District Humane Society are still feeling overwhelmed by several high profile dog rescues in the area, but there is a sense of relief that not only are the dogs getting better, but also those responsible are now facing charges.
Last Friday, a Ginoogaming First Nation Territory couple was charged with several animal cruelty offences following an investigation into 15 dogs found in immediate distress near Longlac on Feb. 7, 2017. Three of the dogs found were deceased.
Following the investigation, 17 additional dogs were surrendered last week to Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) agents while on the property and transferred to the Thunder Bay District Humane Society.
“Between both rescues, we are sitting at 29 dogs here from one family,” said Cassandra Nordal, fundraising coordinator with the Thunder Bay District Humane Society.
Fortunately, the 17 dogs brought in over the weekend were in much better condition compared to the condition of the original 12 dogs.
“Their temperament is a little bit better,” Nordal said. “They are not as timid. They are still pretty scared. It’s just a new environment. We are still waiting for them to be officially vet assessed.”
When the original 12 dogs were first brought to the Humane Society, they were extremely emaciated and malnourished, and only between one and two on a body condition scale.
All 12 dogs have been progressing very well, Nordal said, having gained between 15 and 20 pounds in the last two months.
“They look like totally different dogs,” she said. “It’s really amazing to see. They are still a little bit scared at times, mostly with men and especially with men with hats. But they are coming around and they are doing really well.”
With another influx of so many dogs at one time, the Humane Society is over capacity and vet bills and food bills are increasing.
“We are asking for the public’s help and the Thunder Bay community,” Nordal said. “Monetary donations are going to go a long way right now. We have our Pad Plan right now. Even a $5 donation every month would help.”
The adoptions process is expected to begin on Friday, Apr. 7 for the 12 dogs who were rescued in February, but given their condition, Nordal said the application process will be longer than normal adoptions.
Despite the added pressure on the Humane Society, Nordal and staff and volunteers, who have been working around the clock, are pleased to see the dogs getting better every day. And when charges were laid, everyone breathed a sigh of relief.
“It’s pretty relieving,” said Kamil Wierzbicki, one of the lead OSPCA agents in the investigation in Longlac. “Especially in the area of Greenstone a lot of people were happy about that. I guess it has been going on for a long time and no one really stepped forward before. I’m hoping this doesn’t happen again with anyone else, but unfortunately it does happen.”
An emotional Nordal said she was instantly relieved when she heard the news that charges were laid in the case, because she has been a part of it since that first night, a night she said she will never forget.
“From seeing them come in personally that night to where they are now, it’s honestly amazing,” she said. “We thank the public for taking the time and just being patient with us. It’s honestly amazing how they are now.”