Friday, 19 October 2012

A Week in the Life of Rescue

Have you ever wondered what an average week in rescue looks like? It’s not (just) a walk in the park! Our rescue depends on a huge, well-connected team of volunteers to function well. Everyone has tasks that help us run smoothly and care for our Mutts as well as possible. It’s a good thing that no one expects to make money running a rescue, because dogs sure are expensive to care for, especially when they first come into our care after a lifetime as strays or neglected pets!

Veterinary Care:
Minnie, now in her furever home, was a dog requiring
very expensive veterinary treatments.

Spays and Neuters:
In one week, we spay and neuter an average of 15 dogs. This costs us around $2250… a week! If each of these dogs remained free as strays, and contributed 5 litters of 7 puppies to the world, there would be 525 more unwanted dogs around. Believe it or not, having 5 or more litters is exactly what most stray females do in their lifetimes if not rescued!

Vaccinations and Dewormings:
We vaccinate around 20 dogs each week in care. Deworming dogs must be done much more frequently, and many dogs from Northern communities come to us with very severe parasite infestations, so we deworm upwards of 40 dogs each week on average. The cost of this each week is around $500-$1,000 depending on the size and needs of each animal.

Minor injuries and illnesses:
Dogs, like kids, tend to get bumps and bruises just from every day life. Sometimes they hurt themselves enough to warrant a visit to the vet, to make sure that we don’t have a broken bone or a damaged eye. Several dogs each week in our care will need to visit the vet for minor injuries and illnesses, and this cost varies a lot from $50 to $300 or possibly more if medication or further treatment is required. 

One of the costs we pay almost every week is for at least one mom to have a prenatal check-up, including x-ray and/or ultrasound. This alone costs around $200 per visit.

Major injuries and illnesses:
Major illnesses and injuries cost us a lot to heal with the help of our vets, but to us, it’s more than worth it to see a dog able to lead a healthy, happy life. Examples of the major illnesses and injuries we are currently treating are:

Parvovirus - $1,000 treatment per affected dog
Pneumonia - $1700 each
Cherry eye surgery - $700
Mange - $800 treatment per affected dog
Hip Replacement - $1700
Bacterial infections - $400
Dental surgery - $400
Leg amputations - $1,000 each
Lyme disease - $400 treatment per affected dog
Fish tape worms - $100-$200 treatment per affected dog
Diabetes Insipidus - $150 monthly plus $1000 worth of tests per affected dog
Bullet removals - $1200

Normally, we take in anywhere from 10 to 20 dogs each week. These dogs come from many different situations, but intake is a lengthy and often expensive procedure.

Many of the dogs we bring into care are strays from remote communities. Life for them has been a matter of survival, and so these dogs often come into care malnourished, frightened, full of parasites, and in need of a lot of love – and veterinary care. Usually, for a stray to come into care, a caring person in the community must contact us to ask if we have space for the dog.
We have a hierarchy of intake that allows the dogs most at risk to come in first.
Roxie and her babies, a mom from a Northern community
now in rescue.
  1. Pregnant moms – at the biggest risk due to their impending labour, we take moms in first to get them the care and nutrition they need to deliver healthy babies in a safe environment.
  2. Sick and injured dogs – these are the strays who require our help the most. Whether it be surgery or medication, we see these dogs through their treatment to prevent any more suffering.
  3. Moms with puppies – at almost as much risk as pregnant moms, females who have already had their puppies in an unsafe environment need to come into care to receive the proper care to raise healthy pups.
  4. Young puppies – puppies do not have defences against older dogs, and are usually the last to receive food in a stray situation.
  5. Female dogs (not pregnant) – females are at risk of getting pregnant every heat cycle, so we bring them in to end the continuous cycle of births.
  6. Male dogs – we love male dogs, but as they are unable to get pregnant and are generally more dominant in a stray situation, they are at the least risk and therefore are at the bottom of the intake list.

Owner surrenders and Seizures:
Occasionally, owners of dogs find themselves unable to care for their pets. When space allows, we sometimes accept these dogs into care to find them new homes. Some of these dogs are being given up due to behavioural issues or medical conditions that require a lot of care.
More rarely, rescues may be asked to help with a large seizure situation where dogs have been removed from an unsafe situation. 

Dogs needing to come into care are often located in remote locations. It takes a lot of time and cooperation to get a dog here! For flights, we require someone in the community to catch the dog, hold it until the time of the flight, and get it to the airport. The staff at the airline will load the dog (in a plastic crate) onto the plane and fly it to Winnipeg, where it will be picked up by one of our volunteers. Then, the dog must be driven to its foster home (or sometimes to a vet for immediate care). The cost of the flight is generally around $100-$200 for a medium-large dog, but extra large dogs or moms with babies cost a lot more. 


Processing applications:
Once our dogs have gotten all of their necessary veterinary care, training, and are ready to go home, we have to make sure that the people who want to adopt them are a good match! Our staff and volunteers need to go through applications and call references. The successful applicants are then contacted and given a chance to meet the dog they wish to adopt. Our foster families will meet with the candidates and show off their foster pooch. If the match is a good one, the family can bring the dog home with them! All of this takes a great deal of our manpower each week, especially during peak adoption times.

Adoption fairs and other events:
Almost every week, we have some sort of event going on to help keep our rescue running. Whether this is an adoption fair or a fundraiser, these events take a huge number of people and an even bigger amount of time to plan and implement. Some of the preparation for an adoption fair includes: screening applications for dogs, booking venues, organizing staff members and volunteers, getting merchandise ready to sell, grooming dogs, etc. 

Advertising & Public Education
We do a great deal of work with social media to promote our dogs and get help for our organization. We have a great team working on our blog, website, and posting updates on Facebook and Twitter every day!

We, as a team, believe in being open with our operations and costs. This is because we depend heavily on public donations to fund our vetting and other needs! 
MMDR Calendars available for purchase.

Fundraising efforts:
Many hours are put toward fundraising to help pay our bills. At times (such as right now), we end up with several dogs in care that come with very large, unexpected veterinary costs. We fundraise with a number of methods so that there is something available which can appeal to just about anyone. The companies who provide us our merchandise are extremely supportive of our cause, so we are able to get these products at a very reasonable cost support many of our fundraising efforts. This allows us to bring in some money to get our dogs health care! It takes a great deal of time and effort from our volunteers to organize fundraising efforts. 


Training – regular:
Each and every dog in care with us receives basic training in his or her foster home. This can include everything from paper training puppies to teaching walking manners to adults. We try to send our dogs home with a basic level of responsibility as a good family member.

Training – special or problem:
Many dogs that come into care need a little extra training with a professional to work on issues developed over the years. We have fantastic trainers who often provide their services to us for free or at a greatly reduced cost. It still does cost us money to have our dogs go home without major behavioural issues! This number varies, but would be at least $150 for a dog with a larger need.

Much of our volunteer and staff time goes into providing support for those who care for our dogs. 

Manitoba Mutts foster homes are provided a huge level of support from each other and from our team. They are able to ask questions about anything their foster dogs need (health issues, behavior, nutrition, and even bathroom concerns!) This support allows them to give their foster dogs the very best of care. We even provide daycare spaces (donated generously by doggy daycares around the city) to fosters to provide socialization for vaccinated, well-behaved dogs!

Adoptive families of our Mutts always have the support of the MMDR community. Similar to our foster families, we provide a Facebook group where Alumni can meet to discuss their dogs, ask questions, and post photos. Our staff members love to get updates on Mutts from their new homes! We are available to talk about any concerns adopters may have with their new family members. 

How to Help
It’s a lot of work and money to run a rescue, and we need every hand (and pocket) we can get! The MMDR family is unlike any other. We work hard and play hard! If you would like to get involved and help out, we always need more help in the following ways:

We need volunteers for all kinds of jobs! Driving Mutts to appointments, picking up supplies, making phone calls, creative positions (photography and others), and all kinds of things! Whatever your talent is, we will put it to great use to help dogs in need.

Do you have a little space in your heart and home? If so, consider fostering one of our lovely Mutts! We have a foster dog for everyone: big/small, male/female, calm/energetic, young/old… you name it, there is a dog in need that fits your description. Fostering costs you nothing but a little time and a whole lot of love. It pays in cuddles and kisses, and it’s worth it every time!

If you love dogs and are looking for your newest family member, we have a dog for everyone in care. Browse through our Adoptables albums to see most of the great dogs we have available right now, or tell us what you’re looking for and we’ll help you find the perfect buddy.

One of a rescue’s biggest needs is money. We pour thousands of dollars into making dogs well and happy, and right now, we have an alarming number of very ill dogs in care. Sadly, sometimes puppies and dogs come into care appearing healthy, but end up having unforeseen needs. Rarely, we experience a situation like the one we are currently in, where we end up with a few litters of very ill puppies and a few dogs requiring very pricey surgeries. If you can spare any amount to donate, our Mutts will be forever grateful! 

It takes a village to care for rescue Mutts, and we are always looking for more members in the Manitoba Mutts community.

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