Over the years, I’ve witnessed a lot of animal suffering. But the images from our rescue of nearly 100 neglected sled dogs in rural Quebec will stay with me for a long time.
The local SPCA had received tips several weeks earlier about a large group of huskies chained up in the woods, without adequate food and water. But it took some time for the SPCA to pinpoint the location. They immediately called Humane Society International for help. Our Emergency Services team deployed to Quebec, complete with trained animal handlers and a specialized vehicle to remove the dogs.
As we walked onto the property, my heart broke. The huskies had been chained to metal poles and rotting plywood structures, over barren stretches of frozen mud. Hungry and dehydrated, they were unable to move beyond the two-meter radius their chains permitted.
The emaciated huskies began to wag their tails as we approached, barking in excitement. Amidst the noise, one dog sat quietly. I went to him and he too began to wag his tail. I winced as I felt his ribs, so prominent under his fur. Looking closer, I soon realized he was blind—untreated cataracts had taken his sight. Carefully, we walked him to freedom, and the promise of a better life.
We arrived just in time. Winter is coming and many of these dogs—including a number of puppies—may not have survived without our intervention.
Thankfully, our rescue operation was a complete success. One by one, we led or carried the dogs into our Emergency Services vehicle, and transported them to our emergency shelter an hour away—space generously donated by a local businessperson. There, dedicated volunteers from United Animal Nations are providing care, and SPCA Laurentides-Labelle veterinarians have treated and vaccinated the dogs. Once healthy, these deserving dogs will be adopted out to loving homes in Canada and the United States.
As we left the property, we pulled the heavy metal poles out of the ground, pushing over the filthy plywood dog houses. This property, home to misery for so long, will not house this kind of suffering again.
While these huskies are now safe, so many animals across Canada face neglect and abuse. HSI/Canada is advocating for stronger laws at the provincial and federal level, so we can stop this kind of suffering forever.
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For more information, please visit www.hsicanada.ca
Rebecca Aldworth is Director of Humane Society International Canada