By Jaxon McGinn
Local Journalism initiative reporter
Sunny South News
For the past two weeks, the polar vortex has been in full swing across the prairies, with Coaldale seeing temperatures around -30 and wind chills upwards of -40. The cold weather can have a crucial impact on the local pet population, with some rescues already full.
The Last Chance Cat Ranch located in Lethbridge is currently full and is asking people to help stray cats whenever possible. Elizabeth Ginn, the founder of Last Chance Cat Ranch, says it can’t provide the much-needed help because of financial constraints. The City of Lethbridge isn’t providing support to rescues either, forcing the organization to fundraise independently.
“People keep calling rescues expecting rescues to do all the work for them,” said Ginn. “We’re all volunteers here, nobody gets paid. The Humane Society won’t do anything, the city won’t do anything, so if people care, they have to make an effort to help the pet and then we can do our best to work with them.”
People who come across a stray pet outside are encouraged to provide shelter and help them during these almost unbearable colder temperatures.
“People should take (a lost pet) in and see if they can find the owner, post it on Facebook, give it water, keep it fed and keep it hydrated,” said Ginn. “Possibly build a shelter of some kind and continue feeding them because they can’t survive on their own without help from humans.”
During the low temperatures, Paw Time Indoor Dog Park in Lethbridge provides ample space for people to bring their dogs to burn off their energy.
“The stay and play are where you’re able to come in with your dog, and you can stay and play with it either on your own or with all the dogs there,” said Kirsten Jungle, owner of Paw Time Indoor Dog Park.
The indoor park can accommodate approximately 43 dogs at a time. Jungle says people don’t need to book time slots, but are encouraged to wear a mask when inside and try to keep a six-foot distance from others.
“The entire play area measures at about 6,000 square feet, maybe a little bit more. We have three playpens. One is about 2,400 square feet, 1,200 square feet, and probably 1,000 square feet. We’re able to accommodate a lot of dogs and a lot of different dog personalities.”
“We also have a track that goes around the pens that if you don’t want your dog to play, you can walk your dog, it’s about 300 feet in diameter and about nine feet wide, so you can come to walk with friends or others,” added Jungle.
For people who don’t want to venture out during the cold temperatures, Jungle encourages people to set up games and different activities to exercise their dog’s mind if they can’t go out and do physical exercise.
“Doing things like doing homemade puzzles for your dog, so they have to like to figure out how to get the treat out of like a bottle [is great]. You can do sniff detection where you hide treats, and they have to find them. There are lots of online tools on how to engage your dog inside, and the internet is a wonderful thing to help come up with ideas.”
Over the next week, temperatures in Alberta are expected to rise above freezing, people are encouraged to take their pets outside and get some fresh air.