The City of Melfort has entered a new contract with an animal control officer to ensure that animals abandoned at the city landfill are managed promptly and safely following an incident over the holidays.
Brad Schaerer posted to social media on Dec. 23 about the odd sight of seeing a pair of dogs and puppies at the Melfort Landfill. With freezing temperatures, after reporting the incident he left believing landfill staff would handle the situation.
As the post spread and others began to follow-up, it became evident no one had come.
Brenda Orr, with CatSask, first heard about the situation on Christmas Eve through Facebook. CatSask, also called Cat Action Teams of Saskatchewan is a charitable non-profit organization dedicated to helping abandoned and forgotten felines in rural Saskatchewan communities.
Immediately Orr began reaching out to the city through both phone and social media in an attempt to gain access to the site.
On Dec. 26 she was let into the site with three others, finding the mother, now named Faith, and a several month old dog, now named Willie, that they believe to be a puppy from an earlier litter – but the young pups were unable to be found.
“They were bedded down on a flat deck [trailer] on the side of a hill. There’s a foot maybe or so where they climbed down,” Orr said. “I tried to slip a lead around but it was such a tight area… We couldn’t.”
Returning the next day, the group apprehended Faith, following which a city worker captured her puppy. Faith had a variety of injuries both new and old, including cuts, half a missing ear, a head injury and a fear of sticks.
Orr believes Faith let her capture her because she knew she needed help.
After being taken to the veterinarian, they learned Faith had given birth within the week. Orr said the likely situation for the puppies is that they were buried in the garbage.
“They either perished that night from the elements or a big truck came…and buried them, if they weren’t dead already from the elements.”
She described herself as disappointed, angry and hurt.
“We need proper protocol and procedures put into place and followed so that the next time that happens they don’t fall through the cracks and think everybody else did something and in reality no one has and everyone just went home for Christmas.”
One of the other rescuers, Dawn Quinn, said Faith slept for about a week after her rescue, becoming cuddly soon afterwards. Willie seemed to share his mom’s warm disposition.
“He’s the first dog [I’ve had] that’s ever put his toys away. He gets his toys and puts them away every night,” said Carrie Stobbs, the rescuer taking care of Willie. “He has his own little personality.”
Following Orr speaking to council, Stobbs took the opportunity, telling council that it wasn’t an isolated incident.
Stobbes brought a photo of a kitten that just weeks prior her daughter rescued from the landfill after she saw it being attacked by birds.
“One of the birds had dropped something from the sky, and she just happened to look down and here was this kitten and the birds were all pecking at it. So she grabbed this kitten and brought it home and took it to the vet,” Stobbes said. “One of its toes had been pecked at so we just had to do hydrotherapy, keep it clean and wash it.”
Quinn also spoke, telling council that it wasn’t just one cat, with at least four seen by others.
“There were four cats but there were two kittens. The other kitten is probably gone,” Orr told reporters after the meeting.
“I would like to see them humanely trapped, put into a foster home, rescue or SPCA.”
Despite the grim situation, Orr said she was pleased with the city’s policy changes.
“I think we’re all very pleased that there’s going to be action taken and it’s not just going to slip through the cracks and go away, because none of us are going to let it.”
In addition to the new contract, the city stated that they were developing new work procedures to guide staff on handling animals found at the landfill.
“I’m very pleased how promptly the city has made changes to our contracted services for professional animal control services,” said Glenn George, Melfort’s mayor. “The dogs abandoned at the landfill over Christmas was a very tragic situation, and this city will ensure that if it happens again, it will be dealt with quickly and safely by experts trained in this type of work.”
Jessica R. Durling, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Humboldt Journal