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Shelter sleepout to raise awareness, support for homeless animals
When you see a large group of people camping out on Century Street April 28, don’t worry, a shanty town isn’t sprouting up in the middle of the St. James industrial area.
However, staff and volunteers at D’Arcy’s A.R.C. will be going homeless and hungry for 24 hours to grab your attention and point it towards the city’s growing stray animal population.
"It’s been done for human causes and homeless people causes," said shelter owner D’Arcy Johnston, a North End resident.
"And the fact there are more homeless animals on the streets of Winnipeg than there are humans, there’s over 50,000 homeless animals, we want to be out there just to be a stray animal for a day."
Starting at noon on Sat., April 28, a group of about 20 will forgo food and digital luxuries, and sleep overnight outside the centre, located at 730 Century St., as part of its Stray for a Day event.
A staging area made from skids and boxes — anything and everything from the backyard, really — will create the conditions of where stray animals have to find shelter.
"This is out there, this is real, and what we deal with every day," Johnston said.
The shelter’s phone lines will be open for 24 hours and will be accepting much needed supplies like litter, bleach, and canned cat food, along with monetary donations.
The event is built around other successful fundraising and awareness events, like the annual Pawsta dinner, yard sale and dog’s breakfast, Johnston said.
There are about 125 cats and dogs in care at the shelter. Another 45 are in foster care, Johnston said.
It costs around $500,000 a year to run the shelter, the largest no-kill facility in western Canada.
Still, it remains a challenge to come up with creative ideas to keep the shelter, along with animal issues, in the public mind.
"We’ve been very lucky. People do support us here in Winnipeg and we’re very grateful for that," Johnston said.
"But, we’ve gotten comments people don’t want to support us anymore because we’ve got everything. It’s not that we got everything — we’re lucky to get what we have, now we have to keep it or we can go back to what we had before and start over again which is not where we want to go."
At the end of last year, the Winnipeg Pet Rescue Shelter named incoming puppies after Winnipeg Jets’ players to raise awareness and bring in visitors.
On April 26, the shelter will hold its ninth annual Survivor-themed fundraising dinner.
"We have two objectives — the interim care of animals and the solvency of shelter," rescue shelter director Carla Martinelli said in a previous interview. "If we can’t dovetail those two objectives, the shelter doesn’t stay open it’s as simple as that. It’s a constant, constant struggle."
For more information, visit www.darcysarc.ca.
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