Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Puppies in need, indeed

Caring people save dogs from death

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I get a ton of email from dog lovers.

But I don't get a lot like the one I received a few days ago from a retired Winnipeg printer named Frank Clairmont.

Frank wanted to share "a sad story with a happy ending." He definitely caught my attention when, a few paragraphs in, he roared:

"First, I would like to mention that if there is a hell, that person or persons responsible for abandoning three 10-week-old pups go straight there!"

Maybe I should explain. It began last Friday when Frank, 67, and his wife Lorena, 62, were driving along Highway 304 en route to their remote cottage at Lake Wanipigow, about 21 kilometres south of Bissett, and they spotted "a small critter" in the middle of the road.

As they drew closer, the animal scuttled away onto an old bush road. "As we passed the bush road, my wife looked down it and spotted two more critters and said they looked like dogs," Frank wrote.

Concerned because there are no communities in the immediate area, the couple turned their car around and drove down the old road to check things out for themselves.

"I had to drive in about a kilometre and a half before we found them," is what Frank told me later over the phone.

What they found were three 10-week-old puppies, possibly border collie crosses, stranded alone in the middle of nowhere.

"They were at least 10 to 12 miles (16 to 19 km) away from anything," Frank told me. "They were close to total exhaustion, close to death. They hadn't eaten at all. Their bellies were swollen."

After hopping out of his truck, Frank whistled. "The pups turned around and came running toward me," he said. "They started licking me to death. I put them in the back of my truck and proceeded a little further down the road to see if anybody was off-road camping or if there were any other dogs. There was nothing."

Then it was off to the family cottage, where Frank bathed the filthy, tick-infested puppies in the bottom of an old plastic drum. Then he fed his unexpected guests the only suitable chow on hand -- a mix of cat food and hotdogs.

"It was like a shark feeding frenzy," Frank recalled. "There was food all over the floor. When we gave them the cat food, they almost ate the can."

Over the weekend, the abandoned pups became tiny celebrities in the cottage development, with neighbours popping by to deliver food, toys or just to play.

Sadly, living in a small Winnipeg home with a recently inherited and extremely skittish cat meant the couple doesn't have room for a trio of homeless puppies.

So Frank turned to his sister-in-law, Elaine Clairmont, who is active in the animal rescue community, and she posted a frantic appeal on her Facebook page. That cry for help was answered by the special people who run Hull's Haven Border Collie Rescue, a non-profit group that helps all dogs, but has a special focus on border collies.

"I wish there were more people like Frank," Sally Hull, who runs the rescue from her home in Meleb, told me. "If it weren't for them, the pups would probably have died."

When the dogs arrived Sunday, their bellies were distended from malnutrition and they were full of parasites. Hull's Haven has a network of 30 to 40 foster homes, mostly in Winnipeg, and was "jammed up" that day. "We had 11 dogs come in that Sunday," Sally explained. "It's a lot."

But emergency foster placements were quickly drummed up and the abandoned puppies are now among a host of adoptable hounds that can be viewed on the rescue group's Facebook page.

The point Frank stressed -- along with his outrage at whoever abandoned the puppies -- was how thankful we should be for the amazing work done by volunteer rescue groups like Sally's, which has placed about 1,000 dogs since it opened in 2006.

Hull's Haven is holding a fundraising barbecue bash on Saturday.

Everyone and their dogs are welcome, because we all need somewhere to call home.

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Don't paws! Help now

RESCUE groups such as Hull's Haven are always looking for donations of cash, food and families willing to foster dogs.

"Our funding is all via fundraisers and adoption fees," Sally Hull, executive director of Hull's Haven, noted. "We may adopt a dog out for $250, but it may have cost us $2,000 in veterinary surgeries, etcetera."

You can donate online by going to www.hullshaven.org or click on the adoption button to see the dogs available on the rescue's Facebook page. A fundraising barbecue is being held Saturday, Sept. 15, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Victoria Jason Park, 25 Redonda St., in Transcona.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 31, 2012 A2

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