A Trail pet storeowner with a big heart is trying to give a rescued dog a shot at a new life, but needs help from other animal lovers.
Sarah Fulcher, dog trainer and owner of Barks and Recreation Pet Services, started an online sled-dog network that connects mushers and sled dog rescuers alike this spring.
Known as Husky Emergency Adoption, Rescue and Transport (HEART), the network transfers adoptable dogs from the Northwest Territories to the West Kootenay.
Though HEART has already found about 40 homes for dogs in need, Fulcher and her team of volunteers have come across a “northern special,” which has a broken hind leg that needs to be amputated.
Faced with a new challenge, Fulcher is hosting a fundraiser seminar that will feature Helga Brink, a homeopath for animals who carries a diploma in natural health care. Trained in acupuncture, massage and herb therapy, Brink will teach dog owners to recognize symptoms and do basic first aid on their pets. The suggested $10 donation to attend the seminar will go toward Marley’s surgery and ultimately placing the four-month-old puppy into a loving home.
“She just has such a good temperament and such a good outlook with all she’s been through,” said Fulcher. “She really is a good example of what these dogs can be.”
Using a network of stopover and foster homes, HEART works with several animal welfare organizations to move dogs from the north, where there is only one overpopulated shelter in Yellowknife, to Greater Trail and sometimes beyond.
Beyond the support received from other rescue organizations, HEART relies on Arrow Lakes Veterinary Clinic in Castlegar for a discounted rate on check-ups and vaccinations, as well as Kettle River Veterinary Services in Grand Forks for surgeries.
“If the SPCA could take them in there would probably be hundreds of thousands of dogs. There is just a lack of vet care, there is also a cultural aspect as well – not spading or neutering – and dogs are culled by gunshot on a regular basis,” explained Fulcher.
“It’s not that everybody abuses their dogs, but there is a lot of neglect and a lot of very sad situations.”
Thanks to Glenda Harris from Nelson, Marley has a temporary home, where she is learning under the care of the dog trainer.
“My hope for her is that I think she would make an awesome therapy dog and I really hope that she goes to someone who wants to continue her training,” she said. “I really feel that this special girl has something to give back to the community.”
Marley’s owner didn’t even know the puppy’s leg was broken, which was discovered when she turned up at the shelter in a litter.
The sad reality is that most dogs in remote communities throughout Canada have two basic lifestyles – roaming in aggressive packs and scavenging food, or tied to a plywood box by a four-foot chain, said Fulcher.
“People think of a rescue dog and think ‘Oh they’re damaged and have behavioural problems and they’re going to be a lot of work,’” she said. “These guys come down and they’re perfectly healthy, lovely dogs that make great house pets and adapt instantly.”
HEART was started up by Fulcher, who was devastated by the mass cull of 100 sled dogs owned by Whistler-based Outdoor Adventures.
She thought if a husky-focused organization existed, it might eliminate future tragedies.
Beyond being imbedded in the sled dog community “skijoring,” a cross between dog sledding and cross-country skiing, Fulcher’s passion for huskies is evident in her own home with two Siberian huskies Maui and Nick, along with Dexter, a Belgian shepherd.
The organization, which is seeking non-profit status, always needs volunteers willing to do short transport trips or those who would like to become a foster.
“You have to go into it with the right attitude – that she’s not staying, she’s not mine,” said Harris. “I’m doing this for a specific reason and part of that is for her. But as a trainer, I love working with puppies because every puppy teaches me something new and she’s taught me a lot.”
Though HEART operates solely through volunteers and money from adoptions, it does accept donations toward helping dogs.
Those interested in aiding Marley are invited to the seminar held at Barks on Cedar Avenue from 11 .am. to 3 p.m. Saturday and are asked to RSVP by calling 250-521-2275 or via email at email@example.com
To meet Marley, come check out the seminar or contact Harris at 250-352-2542.
For more information HEART visit, www.heartdogrescue.com or follow the organization on Facebook.