By Mark Weber For the Advance
Saving Grace Animal Society is sending out the call for bolstered public support as the need for its services continues to rise.
“Really since (the start) of COVID-19, our numbers have increased three times compared to what we were seeing before,” explained Erin Deems, executive director of the Alix-based facility.
“We are also seeing more of the major medical cases throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan coming to our doors as well, which has taken a strain on our financial standpoint – especially when we are trying to fundraise for a vet clinic,” she said.
“So we try to get funds and set them aside for that, and then the next medical need comes in that can cost us upwards of $10,000.
“We are doing our best to fundraise for the clinic in order to be able to help as many animals across the province and other provinces that we possibly can,” she said, adding that veterinary fees can reach as high as three-quarters of a million dollars in a year.
With the ongoing pandemic, fundraising in general is of course far more of a challenge as well.
“We had larger fundraisers that we were doing annually, but we just have not been able to do any in-person fundraising – so it’s really kind of shifted our ability to fundraise,” she said.
To that end, Deems said they are encouraging folks to lend a helping hand.
“Currently, we have our Brick by Brick campaign on our web site where people can donate to, and then they will get their name on our wall once the new building has come to fruition,” she added.
As the campaign notes point out, “With every purchase of a brick we are one step closer to building our own vet clinic and one step closer to providing the most accessible and affordable care for our animals.”
For more about that specific campaign, check out www.savinggracecanada.com/store/brickbybrick”
Folks can donate $100 (bronze), $500 (silver) or $1,000 (gold). Other amounts can be donated via their ‘Dream Donor link’ as well.
Meanwhile, these days, Deems said they are seeing between 150 to 180 animals per month.
In normal times, they would see perhaps 40 to 60 animals each month.
“I think people are having a harder time affording the animals and potentially, they may be putting off spaying and neutering so now we are seeing an influx of puppies because maybe people can’t afford that (extra) cost,” she said, adding that the unwanted litters are creating an overall over-population, too.
This in turn builds the strain on animal rescue organizations.
For Deems, no matter what challenges there are when it comes to caring for an increasing number of animals, the work offers a tremendous amount of personal fulfillment.
She said it can be emotionally overwhelming.
“Certainly, with COVID-19, everything is a bit heightened with stress and insecurities due to the pandemic itself,” she said. “But really, I just focus on it as a case-by-case basis – what I have to do for that animal in that time period.
“And then I move on to the next case – and just keep on going knowing that we are helping these animals so substantially and where would they be without our organization?
“So I focus on the day-to-day, and I take it hour-by-hour, and case-by-case,” she added.
As to the campaign for the new facility, Deems said they have raised to date $110,000 out of the $500,000 goal.
“We will keep on working towards it.”
Deems also knows the joy that animals can bring when they find their forever homes via adoptions.
“When you see what rescued animals have been through and what they’ve overcome, and their positive outlook on life – they wake up every day like, ‘This is the best day ever!’ I think we can really take a lot from them and learn a lot from them.”
According to the web site, the Society was founded in February 2018 as an animal rescue and shelter, operating as a low-scale rescue prior to that.
“Since its inception, Saving Grace has been the go-to society for 24/7 emergency calls, rescuing animals all over Alberta and into Saskatchewan.”
Saving Grace houses a shelter in Alix as well as running an off-site sanctuary for farm animals with no place to go and normally hosts numerous fundraising events throughout the year, working off of an entirely donation-based operating budget.
Saving Grace has also successfully adopted out over 1,000 dogs, organized and completed nine major rescue missions (each bringing over 100 animals into care) and made forever homes at the Sanctuary for 18 farm animals to date, noted the web site.
“The Society works with phenomenal trainers and veterinary staff who devote their time to rehabilitate animals in care, ensuring those ‘unplaceable’ animals receive their own ‘saving grace’ with a chance at a new home and a life filled with love.”
Check out www.savinggracecanada.com, call 403-741-2014 or find them on Facebook at ‘Saving Grace Animal Society’.