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Mission Annie 2: Mission Pawsible

One hundred dogs rescued from desperate conditions in Northern Manitoba will arrive in Port aux Basques on Friday, Dec. 16 and Rescue NL is looking for volunteers in the Southwest Coast region to help. – Courtesy of Rescue NL

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

WHITBOURNE — The holiday season is filled with stories of generosity and kindness, and one animal rescue, Rescue NL, is going above and beyond, trying to get over 100 dogs to the province by Christmas.

These dogs, who are currently living in Manitoba in conditions that many would consider inhumane, are part of Rescue NL’s second round of ‘Operation Annie,’ a rescue effort the organization first started last year. Heather Lynn with Rescue NL said they will bring over as many dogs as they can.

“It’s probably going to be more than 100. We’ve got 120 kennels, so however many dogs we can fit,” said Lynn. “Last year we went up and brought back 68. We flew them down last year and the reason we took 68 was because that’s how many we could fit on the plane. This year we’re doing ground transport and we can fit 120 kennels, so we will fill those kennels and whatever we can fit we’re going to take.”

Operation Annie began with one particular dog that was brought to the province in 2021.

“Last year in October, one of the girls in Manitoba with one of the rescues up there was coming down to visit family down here, and her aunt asked me if she could bring me down some dogs. I said, ‘Absolutely, tell her to bring down whatever she can,’ explained Lynn. “Her and her mom came down. They could only attach two dogs to each of their tickets, so they brought me down four dogs, two puppies and two adults, and one of those dogs, they told me before she came that she has a bad leg. When she came down and we took her to the vet to check her leg out, when they did the x-rays on her, she didn’t just have a broken leg, she had been shot six times and she had been beaten, so her shoulder was crushed. Whoever it was tried to kill her, but she survived. She ended up with her shoulder and leg removed. That was Annie, and that’s why it’s called ‘Mission Annie’. Last year was Mission Annie 1, and this is like the sequel, Mission Annie 2, Mission Pawsible.”

The number of dogs in these northern-Manitoba communities are astronomical.

“Basically what’s happening up there in the northern communities, there’s an overpopulation of dogs. Some of the locations are remote, fly in, fly out access only,” said Lynn. “They are not being spayed or neutered. They’re not getting the vet care they need, and so when they overpopulate, they shoot them, what they call a cull.”

How these dogs live is hard to witness.

“It’s sad because these dogs are what we would have in our houses. It’s just up there pets are kept outside. When we went up there last year, we knocked on people’s houses and asked, ‘Can we have your dog,’ because the dog is set out in a cardboard box on the step just wishing it could go in,” explained Lynn. “That’s normal for them because that’s how they treat their pets. To them that’s love. It’s certainly interesting, but absolutely shocking to us because when we love our pets, they are inside on our couch, but up there it doesn’t work like that.”

Currently there are no rules and regulations in these communities surrounding how people must treat their animals, so they are basically able to do what they want.

“It doesn’t seem like the government is stepping up and that’s really sad because I think the Canadian government needs to do something. They need to say, ‘okay, if you’re having two dogs, they have to be spayed or neutered.’ There will be so much population control,” said Lynn. “Once there are too many dogs, they come to be a problem because they’re starving. Once they’re so hungry, they’re going to start attacking each other, and there have been a couple of times when people have gotten attacked, and was it because they were starving? There could be many reasons why it is happening. It could be because they are beating them. We know that’s happening. So did the dog attack someone because they kicked it and maybe the dog bit them that way? But that’s not the way it’s being portrayed. It’s being portrayed that it’s because they’re wild dogs.”

Lynn said that is a misconception.

“We brought them down last year and it did take some adjustment for some of these dogs, but if you look at Henry on our page, Rescue NL, he is posted up there by the Christmas tree. And when we brought him down, he went from climbing the roof of the garage in the foster he was in, and now in his home, his owner could leave the door open behind him when he leaves and the dog won’t leave because the dog is happy and he knows he belongs there,” said Lynn. “These dogs are amazing and they have a lot of love to give. Sometimes it takes more time for some to adjust than others, but they’re all very loving and they’re usually very socialized because the puppies are carried around by the children from when they’re very young.”

Lynn said what they’re doing is going to make a lot of people happy.

“There’s not that many dogs around here and there’s a lot of puppy mills that are just mass-producing dogs because people want them and charging outrageous prices for dogs that are not good quality and end up being sick. It’s a sin because the conditions those dogs are being bred in and what they’re being bred for is sickening really.”

The dogs, most of which are one-to-two years old, because many don’t survive, will be coming by truck, leaving Manitoba on Dec. 13, with stops every eight hours to let the dogs stretch their legs and have some food and water. If there are no delays, the dogs are expected to arrive in Port aux Basques on Friday, Dec. 16, and Lynn said when they arrive on the ferry, they will be looking for volunteers to help get the dogs off the ferry and ready for transport.

“We are looking for people to help when the dogs get off the boat in Port aux Basques. We have a few people that offered to help, but we do need some more people because it’s going to be a lot of dogs so we are looking for about 10-15 people.”

Anyone who is interested in helping Rescue NL unload the dogs in Port aux Basques can contact their Facebook page, Rescue NL. Another way to help is through donations. The transportation fees for these dogs is $25,000, not including the cost of transporting the kennels back once the dogs are settled. Donations can be sent via email to: donate@rescuenl.com.

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