Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Passion for paws, wet noses sparks dog-flight charity

  • Print

Man's best friend has a friend in Gail McKenzie, an Alberta postal worker who flew five dogs down from Shamattawa, Man., this week to be spayed or neutered at no cost to their owners.

As hobbies go, this one's expensive for the postie who's using her free time while the mail service is caught in a labour dispute to look after her first love: dogs.

She says support from a boyfriend who shares her passion makes the effort worthwhile.

"I'm fiercely protective of the dogs," she said Thursday, from Catrysse Veterinary Services on Portage Avenue where vet Dr. Noel Catrysse was performing the surgeries.

"I've spent thousands out of my own pocket, and my boyfriend has donated a lot of money," McKenzie said.

The passion doesn't stop at flights for dogs, either.

McKenzie runs a non-profit charity to help pay for the Manitoba spay-neuter missions, plus a dog rescue and sanctuary in the Calgary area where McKenzie lives. The sanctuary is registered with Oopsadazy.com and accepts monetary donations through the site.

Shamattawa is the third Manitoba First Nation, including Norway House and Cross Lake Cree Nations, where McKenzie has offered the service since 2005.

In Shamattawa, RCMP Const. Gennifer Furkalo linked McKenzie up with dog owners who wanted the service. The police officer is also active in finding homes and veterinary care for strays from Shamattawa.

First Nations lack veterinary services and without them the dog population explodes, leading to periodic culls in the communities.

"You know the reality, right? In some communities, dogs get shot. I'm trying to create an alternative way," she said.

Grinding poverty, poor social conditions and soaring food costs make caring for a dog next to impossible in places like Shamattawa.

"The people are more poor there than the average native community. The cost of living is through the roof, and I really give people credit for surviving under tough conditions," she said.

It takes a full day to make the 750-kilometre plane ride one way with arrangements for the animals. The dogs going back are owned by families too poor to fly them out for proper vet care, McKenzie said.

In Winnipeg, the dogs are not only fixed, they get their shots and they're dewormed and deloused.

First Nations respond to McKenzie's missions, and they invite her back.

"I'm planning to go back up north in September," she said,

The cost per dog averages about $200, depending on the cost of private vet services and support from local humane societies.

"Whenever there's no veterinary services, you're going to see a rise in pet populations, same as it is with cats in the city," McKenzie said.

"Every dog (fixed) saves 12 to 20 pups ever being born. The more animals you fix, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know, you'll see a drop in the population, and it's compassionate to the animals."

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 24, 2011 A9

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Paul Maurice addresses media at end of 13/14 season

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Local- A large osprey lands in it's nest in a hydro pole on Hyw 59  near the Hillside Beach turnoff turn off. Osprey a large narrow winged hawk which can have a wingspan of over 54 inches are making a incredible recovery since pesticide use of the 1950's and  1960's- For the last two decades these fish hawks have been reappearing in the Lake Winnipeg area- Aug 03, 2005

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What are you most looking forward to this Easter weekend?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google