An enthusiastic shelter dog steals hearts during the council’s first budget meeting

There may not have been a cute burrowing owl worth admiring during the first city council budget meeting of 2023, but there was a finicky shelter dog who wanted to meet everyone.

There may not have been a cute burrowing owl worth admiring during the first city council budget meeting of 2023, but there was a finicky shelter dog who wanted to meet everyone.

The Moose Jaw Humane Society and Saskatchewan Burrowing Owl Interpretive (SBOIC) spoke Nov. 22 during a 2023 budget meeting focused on third-party collections.

Tanki, a Pyrenean cross, accompanied his handler and continually batted his tail on the platform as he looked excitedly at all the humans.

SBOIC usually brings peanuts to these meetings, but the birds had died a few weeks earlier and the organization didn’t want to risk the remaining ambassador, the cricket owl. It is also considering reducing its winter activities to protect the birds.

The humane society wants $253,282 in operating funding next year, an increase of $4,672 from this year.

The burrowing owl center — located at the Moose Jaw fairgrounds — wants $6,754 next year, up $197 from this year.

humane society

Dana Hawkas, Executive Director of the Moose Jaw Humane Society, spoke about the shelter’s activities and services.

The organization took in 244 stray dogs and 477 stray cats this year, with dog numbers similar to 2021 and cat numbers nearly 44 higher. These numbers do not include pets who have been turned over by owners due to financial or health problems, nor people who are in hospitals, in home shelters, or in Police reservation.

The humane society successfully reunited 208 dogs and 86 cats with their owners, while 15 percent of the dogs and 82 percent of the cats needed new homes.

“It’s a sad state for cats. The microchip program will help reunite cats and their owners in the future,” Houkas said.

She added that the humane society works closely with Animal Protection Services of Saskatchewan (APSS), especially during investigations when animals are surrendered or captured.

If the APSS captures animals at Moose Jaw, it will take them to an out-of-community shelter for protection, while bringing confiscated animals from rural areas to Moose Jaw.

“Our staff works tirelessly every day to come up with creative ways to find animals like Tankie at home. We obviously let him down a bit in 175 days (with the shelter), but he’s big and hairy and not everyone wants that,” she said.

Haukaas admitted that they have “very high standards” for who can adopt a Tankie. This is because many people who have adopted pets during the pandemic are giving them away because they are back at their desks.

The shelter’s ability to adopt animals managed to attract the attention of the insurance company, Trupanion. The insurance company has made the agency the first Canadian SPCA to be part of a pilot project that encourages people to sign up for adoption quickly. In return, the humane community received more equipment and support.

Haqs added that the organization expects to start the capital campaign to build a new building next year.

Owls are hiding

This year the burrowing owl center has faced restrictions due to bird flu and ongoing pandemic issues, forcing it to operate five days a week instead of seven, explains bird handler Laurie Johnson. These restrictions also resulted in 1,800 internal visitors – compared to 3,000 normally – and lower revenues.

Furthermore, the center has held 15 outreach initiatives, which is higher than in 2020 and 2021 but still below the usual 60 events reaching more than 1,000 people.

“We may have to cut back on some of our outreach programs so we can breed another Sapphire owl, just so we can do as much cricket as he can for a senior owl,” Johnson said.

However, the positive news is that the center has added five youngsters to its flock.

Johnson added that the center will use the additional funding to install new border fencing to protect the owls from the increased traffic in the area.

The next regular meeting of the Council will be held on Monday, November 28, while the next budget meeting will be held on Wednesday, November 30.

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