For the Wild Rose Humane Society, 2019 has “gone to the dogs.”
The facility, which is located in Didsbury and services an area that stretches from Innisfail to Airdrie, is marking its first year of operations by announcing an intent to expand its services to include the rescue, fostering and adoption of dogs, as well as cats.
“Our overall mandate is to have no more homeless pets,” said Mark Fournier, volunteer treasurer with the organization, during a presentation to Airdrie City council June 17. “What we do is try and promote smart animal ownership and try to find homes for wayward cats, dogs and kittens.”
However, Fournier said, the society has been limited in its efforts to achieve this mandate due to funding. While the Wild Rose Humane Society has existed since 2007, he said, it only recently hired its first staff member and is focused, this year, on becoming more self-sustaining.
“For the last 12 years, we’ve been working just through volunteers – everybody who is coming in to look after the animals have all been volunteers,” he said. “For the first year, we really wanted to kind of cut our teeth, make sure our processes were good. We wanted to make sure we were able to deliver on what we wanted to deliver.”
Throughout that time, Fournier said, the organization has secured corporate sponsorship for the installation of cat and dog kennels, developed a partnership with the Olds Westview Co-op and collected material and financial donations from members of the community. He added more than 100 local volunteers have committed their time to ensure the facility’s success, as well.
According to Fournier, the society also receives income through the surrendering of pets.
“We didn’t really understand how much of a need there was for an organization to accept pets that need to be surrendered,” he said. “Unfortunately, people move or they can’t look after the animals anymore, so we’ll find new homes there. And some of our biggest challenges are actually people who pass away who have pets.”
Caring for, fostering and rehoming cats has been the organization’s focus, Fournier said, noting the Wild Rose Humane Society spays and neuters the animals through partnerships with veterinarians in both Olds and Didsbury. However, now that the society has hired its first paid staff member, Fournier said the hope is to begin accepting dogs, as well.
“We have the kennels, we have the fencing, we’re ready to go with dogs – there’s only one thing kind of standing in the way, and that’s our staffing level,” he said. “Because we were 100 per cent volunteer, asking people to come in several times a day to look after dogs is a lot more responsibility than looking after cats.”
The organization aims to begin accepting dogs in the fall, Fournier said, and plans to put all its fundraising proceeds this year toward that goal. A dinner and auction event is planned for this fall, he added, to help support the initiative.
“We want our member communities to know that we are out there, that we have a facility that is fully operational, and see what services we can provide,” he said. “The amount of adoptions started out slowly, but it’s starting to increase more and more as people know who we are and what we do.”