Barking up the right tree

To the Red Deer and District SPCA, for yet another successful Bark at the Bend Fundraiser last weekend that saw at least $18,000 raised to help operate its new animal care facility.

Bouquet…

To the Red Deer and District SPCA, for yet another successful Bark at the Bend Fundraiser last weekend that saw at least $18,000 raised to help operate its new animal care facility.

And a special bouquet to the more than 150 pet owners attending the annual event at Three Mile Bend Recreation Area who collected pledges while they enjoyed festivities with dozens upon dozens upon dozens of dogs — and one cat.

A good time was had by all, including the cat, which encountered not a single incident with its canine pals.

The Bark at the Bend Fundraiser is a special gathering and a real hoot for animal lovers. It gives them an great opportunity to mingle and swap stories about their pets.

The therapeutic rewards of having a pet have long been recognized by medical experts. Beaming faces among the crowd at Three Mile Bend last weekend was testimony to that fact, thanks to the SPCA.

Enough cannot be said about the importance of the local SPCA and its role in affording neglected animals a new lease on life. These precious creatures are entrusted to our care.

Keeping that in mind, the Red Deer and District SPCA embarked upon a bold project a few years ago to further accommodate the increasing demands of caring for neglected animals — a $4.2-million shelter.

Called the Building Pawsitive Futures campaign, the organization is close to realizing that financial goal. Construction of 12,300-square-foot centre near 45th Avenue and 77th Street is expected to be completed this fall. The bigger centre will double the capacity for homeless pets and provide more education programming so more animals will have a chance to find a loving family.

Well done, SPCA. And well done participants at the Bark at the Bend Fundraiser. Every penny counts.

Bouquet…

To the voters on Monday in the Calgary-Glenmore byelection who sent this terse message to Premier Ed Stelmach: “We’re are mad as . . . and we’re not going to take it anymore.”

In a stunning victory, the byelection was won by Paul Hinman, interim leader of the Wildrose Alliance, followed closely by the Liberal candidate, and then the Conservative one.

Stelmach appears to be seriously treating the byelection as an eye-opener. While he refuses to admit the obvious, on Thursday he said his government is promising to budget more conservatively to quell voter discontent over the way the once-booming province’s fortunes have fallen.

“What I read from (the Calgary byelection) is all the votes seem to have gone to the right, so that means that people want to see more conservative budgeting as we prepare next year’s budget,” he said. “And they’re going to see that.”

It was a stinging victory in the Calgary-Glenmore riding, which the Conservatives had held for 40 years.

Albertans grumbling about the performance of Stelmach’s government, and Klein’s before that. They are starting to get saddle sores from the stacking chairs the Tory government has been unfolding for them for years, insisting they sit out the ride of an inept government.

But it’s been a very tough ride of late. And paramount is one question: how could a province that not long ago sat on boom-time surpluses, now face a projected record deficit of $7 billion?

The Wildrose victory has sparked interest in the fledgling party. Thousands of new memberships have since been sold, the party claims.

That’s a claim Stelmach cannot flick off his shoulder.

Rick Zemanek is an Advocate editor.

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