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‘We’re in crisis mode’: 2023 was an extremely busy year for Red Deer animal rescue

2023 was a difficult year for Whisker Rescue, a Red Deer car rescue organization. (Contributed photo)

A Red Deer animal rescue organization remains “in crisis mode” following an extremely busy 2023.

“We always have the outlook that next year is going to be better because there’s so much education out there, but it just seems like every year gets worse and worse with the overpopulation crisis,” said Lynn Carlson, a member of Whisker Rescue’s board of directors, as well as foster home co-ordinator and adoption co-ordinator.

“It feels like you’re slipping and slipping. You keep coming back because you can’t deny these kitties the help they need. They need a voice and we have to be a voice for them.”

Whisker Rescue is a nonprofit, volunteer-run organization based in Red Deer. It focuses on providing better lives for cats and kittens, with a dedication to ending cat overpopulation and homelessness.

The organization runs a community low-income spay and neuter program.

“People can get their kitties spayed and neutered at a discounted fee. Then Whisker Rescue has to raise money to cover the remainder of the cost,” said Carlson.

“That’s put a huge pressure on our little rescue because vet cots have gone up over 25 per cent. … Unfortunately, we just have to suck it up and keep fundraising.”

Carlson noted that Whisker Rescue has also seen a “substantial increase” in pets being dumped on rural properties.

“There are rising costs in our society – grocery prices are rising, the cost of rent is rising. People are abandoning their pets and dumping them on rural properties because they can’t afford to keep them anymore,” said Carlson.

“Rescues are overflowing. Donations are down. We’re one of the lucky groups with pet store partners – we can put our kitties there and they can be adopted.”

Carlson said animal rescues need help from various groups.

“We need vet help. It would be nice if they would step in and help support the subsidized (spay and neuter) program,” she said.

“It would also be nice to put some pressure on municipalities to help with those subsidized programs. Very little money is coming from municipalities and they are getting the brunt of dumped pets. The people paying taxes to municipalities are the ones getting the dumps – we’ve seen up to 40 cats dumped on a property. Who can afford that?”

Pet owners can also help support animal rescue organizations, Carlson added.

“Abuse cases are rising too, which is very scary. We just had a kitty come into our care that was shot by an arrow. We’re stressing to people that spaying and neutering your pets will keep them from wandering. You need to keep your pets inside because it’s not a very friendly world, unfortunately,” she said.

“We’re in crisis mode and we’re a small rescue. It’s a time for realism. I can’t stress enough: if you can’t afford a pet and you can’t afford vet costs, please don’t adopt a pet.”

For more information on Whisker Rescue, visit

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Sean McIntosh

About the Author: Sean McIntosh

Sean joined the Red Deer Advocate team in the summer of 2017. Originally from Ontario, he worked in a small town of 2,000 in Saskatchewan for seven months before coming to Central Alberta.
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