Central Alberta Humane Society has kittens who are almost ready for adoption. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

Central Alberta Humane Society has kittens who are almost ready for adoption. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

‘When COVID first hit, everything left the building:’ Central Alberta pet shelters hope demand in adoptions continues

‘Our biggest worry is what happens after all the dust has settled’

Animal shelters hope central Albertans will continue to open their hearts to homeless pets in 2021.

Tara Hellewell, executive director with Central Alberta Humane Society, said adoptions slowed down in December after a busy year.

“There is quite a bit of uncertainty out there. Everybody wasn’t expecting the pandemic to go on this long. Folks are concerned about what’s going to come, so we’ll see how that affects us,” Hellewell said.

“When COVID first hit, everything left the building. We’ve had very limited intake of dogs during COVID so it’s clear that people have really relied on man’s best friend throughout this pandemic.”

She said cat adoptions were also consistent, and thankfully few animals were returned after quick, impulse adoptions.

Saving Grace Animal Society, in Alix, also saw a jump in the demand for adoptions.

“We’ve actually had an increase in adoption requests. We don’t really expect things to slow down at all,” said Amanda McClughan, development director at Saving Grace.

“With a lot of things being closed and people being at home, a lot of people felt they had the time to spend to train a dog and integrate it into the family without having to be away so much.”

But Saving Grace has seen a big increase in major medical cases.

She said one day this month they had three calls — a cat with porcupine quills, another cat and a dog needing amputations, and a goat that could not be saved and needed to be euthanized.

“People can’t afford those extra funds to spend on (medical emergencies).”

Saving Grace wants to build a veterinary clinic for easier access to treatment and to reduce medical costs.

A $15,000 donation from an Alberta family in November will be put towards the clinic. It was made on behalf of their son Christopher Atkin who died this year.

“Their son was an animal lover and our page was one that they followed. We didn’t even know they were coming that day. They just showed up and passed us an envelope.”

The family also made an unexpected connection with an older dog while visiting the shelter.

“His name was Highway. He was a little spaniel. They fell in love with him and ended up adopting him,” McClughan said.


More folks seeking pets through Saving Grace Animal Society during COVID-19 pandemic

Staff at the Central Alberta Humane Society are ‘bracing for more pet dumpings’

Paralyzed dog finds a foster family

Central Alberta Humane Society is still celebrating how an abandoned, partially paralyzed dog found a forever home a year ago and showed everyone the meaning of resilience.

In December 2019, the dog was brought in by a Sylvan Lake bylaw officer after someone found her among mattresses and debris outside an apartment building.

The dog, named Angel by society staff, was extremely thin and malnourished, with a birth defect that left her with a twisted spine, and her back legs and hind end paralyzed.

Hellewell said Angel has bounced back since her adoption by an Edmonton-area family who had a dog with similar disabilities.

“She just looks like a completely different dog. It’s so incredible. She’s so much fatter. Now she looks like a normal dog.

“It’s been pretty cool to see how one animal, that I think probably a lot of folks would have thought wouldn’t stand a chance, has just thrived in a new environment.”

In the spring, the society completed its new X-ray and diagnostic room which eliminates the stress on animals caused during transportation, and cuts down on medical costs.

“We received a donation from Central Alberta Medical Imaging Services to purchase an X-ray for $58,000. Lowe’s helped us with some of the room renovations. Alpine Drywall helped us with the lead lining of the room.”

Recently $6,000 was raised for air filtration units to fight off respiratory illness among cats in care. The units will be installed once they arrive from the United States.

Like other non-profits, the society had to postpone its usual fundraising activities in 2020, including its huge, annual garage sale.

Hellewell said corporation donations have also dropped off.

“(COVID) government subsidies continue into the summer which is great. It gives us a little bit of hope that we’re going to be able to make it through. Our biggest worry is what happens after all the dust has settled.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Central Alberta Humane SocietyPets

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Central Alberta Humane Society has kittens who are almost ready for adoption. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

Central Alberta Humane Society has kittens who are almost ready for adoption. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

Tara Hellewell, executive director with Central Alberta Humane Society, visited with some kittens in care at the shelter. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

Tara Hellewell, executive director with Central Alberta Humane Society, visited with some kittens in care at the shelter. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

Just Posted

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta reports 2,271 new COVID-19 cases, Red Deer cases rise slightly

Across Alberta, there are 666 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 146 in the ICU

‘Love, Oran’ is a documentary feature made by Red Deer-raised filmmaker Colin Scheyen. It’s about hidden letters, found in a Woodlea home after 70 years, revealing a family secret. (Screenshot by Advocate staff).
Hidden letters reveal secrets of Red Deer family in a new documentary film

‘Love, Oran,’ by filmmaker Colin Scheyen is showing at Edmonton’s NorthwestFest

Red Deer Rebels' three graduating players, Josh Tarzwell (left), Chris Douglas (middle) and Ethan Anders (right) will all move on to new opportunities next season. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
‘It was a rollercoaster’: Rebels’ graduating players look back on wild season

The nerves. Even three and a half years later, Josh Tarzwell still… Continue reading

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer addressed the city in a Facebook Live video Wednesday and asked citizens to continue to be diligent in the battle against COVID-19. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
‘It’s affecting us all’: Veer encourages city to come together in response to COVID-19

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer is gravely concerned about the growing COVID-19… Continue reading

Alberta Health Services locked the Whistle Stop Cafe in Mirror on Wednesday morning after owner Christopher Scott refused to comply with health orders. Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff
UPDATED: AHS shuts down Whistle Stop Cafe for defying health orders

Justice minister promises to get tough with those ignoring public health orders

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland joins Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as they participate in a virtual discussion from Ottawa on Monday, May 3, 2021, with seniors from Residence Memphremagog in Magog, Quebec. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Federal budget ‘overstates’ economic impact of stimulus spending, budget officer says

OTTAWA — Parliament’s spending watchdog says the federal Liberals’ budget overestimates how… Continue reading

A dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination is prepared at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada maintains getting immunized ASAP with any vaccine offered is best

OTTAWA — Health Canada’s chief medical adviser says her advice has not… Continue reading

FILE - This Sunday, April 10, 2011 picture shows a rig and supply vessel in the Gulf of Mexico, off the cost of Louisiana. Thirteen states sued the Biden administration Wednesday, March 24, 2021 to end a suspension of new oil and gas leases on federal land and water and to reschedule canceled sales of offshore leases in the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska waters and western states. The Republican-leaning states, led by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, seek a court order ending the moratorium imposed after Democratic President Joe Biden signed executive orders on climate change on Jan. 27.     (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Report finds climate change rarely part of Atlantic Canada’s fisheries management

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Climate change is rarely factored into management decisions… Continue reading

Pharmacist Barbara Violo shows off a vile of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine after providing doses to customers at the Junction Chemist, which is a independent pharmacy, during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Friday, March 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
New Brunswick reports blood clot death in connection with Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

FREDERICTON — New Brunswick health officials on Wednesday reported the province’s first… Continue reading

Avoid mixed messaging with any mix-and-match vaccine plan: CEO

Public health doctors and immunologists in Canada are calling for a wait-and-see… Continue reading

Passengers from New Delhi wait in long lines for transportation to their quarantine hotels at Pearson Airport in Toronto on Friday April 23, 2021. Transport Minister Omar Alghabra says the resumption of international travel requires a coordinated approach for testing and a common platform for recognizing the vaccinated status of travellers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Canada supports ‘common platform’ to recognize vaccine status of travellers: Alghabra

OTTAWA — Transport Minister Omar Alghabra says the resumption of international travel… Continue reading

Toronto FC midfielder Richie Laryea (22) and Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Caio Alexandre (8) compete for the ball during the second half of an MLS soccer match, Saturday, April 24, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. Unable to dig itself out of a deep first-leg hole, Toronto FC exited the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday at the hands of Cruz Azul. THE CANADIAN/AP/Phelan M. Ebenhack
Toronto FC exits CONCACAF Champions League at the hands of Mexico’s Cruz Azul

Mexico to face either MLS champion Columbus Crew SC or Monterrey in the August semifinals

Most Read