Shelley Cunningham, president of Litters ‘n Critters
, developed a working relationship with Lee Hill of the Happy Valley-Goose Bay SPCA after a friend introduced them. They now have a system which allows them to get some of the dogs and pups who need assistance to Nova Scotia, where they receive veterinary care and are placed in homes.
“If it wasn’t for the SPCA there and the fact that the dogs are coming here they would be dead,” said Cunningham. “We’ve been doing this for four years and rescued close to 2,000 dogs.”
Dogs have been found with shotgun wounds, stab wounds, burns, broken legs, eyes hanging from sockets, and infected wounds.
“The situation in Labrador is terrible,” said Cunningham. “You could walk the streets there any day and fill a van 10 times over with dogs. We’ve been lobbying the government, asking for help, but don’t hear from them.”
Karen Butt has tried contacting Kathy Dunderdale, premier of Labrador and Newfoundland, about the situation but received no reply. As the vice-president and adoption coordinator of Litters ‘n Critters Butt has seen the results of some of the abuse first hand.
“We get pups like Karma, who was left tied to a tree deep in the woods,” she explained. “When he was found he weighed less than 10 pounds.”
The pup had been tied with a rope that was embedded deep into his neck, and suffered nerve damage.
Blue, a Labrador retriever mix, was tied with barbed wire and left to die. He went through surgery and therapy and has been adopted into a home.
Mindy, a three-month-old Husky mix, was found tied to a house with her leg mangled because some young people had attempted to chop it off with an axe. She had also been shot in the head twice. She too is now living in a caring home.
Dupster was found in a rubbish bin. He had been tied up, sodomized with sticks, and had fish hooks shoved into his face. He went through several surgeries to remove the fish hooks and repair the damage to his intestines and anus.
Butt said that although Dunderdale has been sent information on these dogs, as well as photos, when she was asked in public what she could do about the abuse problem in Labrador she replied “What problem?”
“This is a big problem in Labrador, especially in northern communities,” added Butt. “It needs to be addressed.
“The dogs were bring here are thankful to be rescued and give undying love. Some have gone to PEI and New Brunswick, and we have a list of people waiting for dogs.”
Cunningham said they have a good network of volunteers but do need more foster homes. Another major issue is fundraising, and they continually work on ways to raise money. The adoption fee for dogs is $75 but much more than that is spent to cover surgeries, vaccines, spays and neuters.
“Every penny we have goes toward the animals,” she said. “I pay for my own gas to drive the animals around, and spent $6,000 last year.”
She said the work can be difficult.
“Sometimes I feel like I’ve had enough,” she said. “But then I look at the faces of these innocent animals and say, ‘No, they need us.’”