When Fauna Eyford of Crooked Leg Ranch got the call on Monday morning, she knew her mother would understand why she bailed on her. It was another rescue call.
The agitated voice on the other end of the phone said they had dropped by to help a friend with his animals, but once they arrived his first call was for an ambulance to take the couple to the hospital. However, also in the home in desperate need of aid, were seven dogs, two geese, a cat and budgies.
“I wish I could say this was an isolated case, but we’re called about once a month for this type of thing,” Fauna said.
After securing permission to remove the animals, Fauna and a couple of Crooked Leg Ranch volunteers found temporary boarding arrangements for all of them except the cat.
“It’s still missing,” Willow Eyford said.
With the removal of these animals, Crooked Leg Ranch is again on the hook for vet costs and other related costs. One of the animals in critical distress was euthanized with the permission of the owners. The rest, after a bath and a little grooming, are being placed in foster care.
“This isn’t a unique situation,” Willow said.
“And I wish I could say this was the worst I’ve seen, but it isn’t.”
She went on to say owners (for whatever reason) find themselves unable to care for animals and this is something people need to talk about before they get to that point.
“If you have a pet, have a plan,” she said.
Both Fauna and Willow agreed in circumstances where there’s a clear protocol for ailing or even deceased owners, there’s no clear protocol for animals that may be in need just as desperately as their masters.
“Owners, though, are also neglected and that’s where neighbours, service people and others who may notice something isn’t right, maybe they haven’t seen that neighbour for a few days or they notice livestock in need [a pig and two geese were dead on the property of this most recent case], have to step up, drop by and check on these people,” Willow said.
And, Fauna added, if someone is checking on the owners, then they are also witnessing animal conditions.
“We’ve seen some horrible situations where owners and animals are in deplorable conditions,” Willow said.
However, Willow and Fauna said they can only do so much. Everything they do, they do as volunteers and although Crooked Leg Ranch is an animal rescue and sanctuary, the operation depend on donations.
“When you see circumstances like this and the condition of the animals, how do you walk away?” Fauna said.
“But obviously other did turn their back on these people. There were maintenance people in there, they have neighbours, casual drivers passing the place would have noticed things were deteriorating; I don’t understand how this can happen.”
Willow added they deal with the animals but this is really about people who can’t speak for themselves; it’s about humanity.
“What else do we do but keep answering the phone,” Fauna said.
Apparently the friend called the SPCA but, as it was after hours, they just got the answering machine.
SPCA manager Colby O’Flynn said if the public witnesses animals in need they should phone the RCMP who can then dispatch the appropriate agencies to handle such cases, including the Quesnel SPCA.
“We’ve offered Crooked Leg Ranch blankets and supplies and currently have room for some of the animals,” O’Flynn said.
Willow said all the animals were being fostered which is the ideal environment as several of the dogs have specific veterinary issues.
Both the Eyfords and the SPCA agree this is an ongoing problem.
“We don’t have the answers, but its not hard to see the problem,” Willow said.
“People need to be more aware and speak up, stir it up a bit and don’t give up just because you run into a barrier,” Fauna said.
Crooked Leg Ranch is always looking for caring foster homes for the animals that end up in their care.
They’re also trying to establish a sponsorship program where people can sponsor a specific animal.
“We can always
make good use of used towels and blankets and of course cash is always welcome,” Willow said.
“In fact, people can donate on our behalf to any of the vet clinics in town – we have a tab with all of them.”
She also said they always appreciate any volunteer drivers who can help with moving animals around.
And a special hats off to anyone travelling to the coast who has room for a cage as they send animals ready for adoption to various coastal rescue
and animal organizations.
“I wish these situations were rare but unfortunately they’re all too common,” Willow said of the animals most recently removed.