Animal shelter set to open

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DIDSBURY – After many months of tireless effort by volunteers, the new Wild Rose Humane Society (WRHS) animal shelter in Didsbury is set to open.

The shelter will be opened at a special ribbon-cutting ceremony for dignitaries on June 22 at the shelter, which is located at 13 Co-op Road.

The general public is then invited to the official grand opening celebration on Saturday, June 23 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the shelter.

Society president Dean Orlando said they’ve been very busy the last few months renovating the building for the opening.

The society is a non-profit, volunteer-run society.

“We’re pretty excited,” said Orlando. “We’re hiring summer students right now through the Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP) program through the provincial government.”

Aside from the student hires, the shelter will rely on volunteers from the community although they will be looking at hiring a shelter manager at some point.

“We’ve saved enough money, we think we should probably have a shelter manager for the fall,” he said.

The shelter will be an addition and continuation of the work the society already does in regards to its adoptions and fostering program, he said.

“Obviously, we’ll be expanding that with lots of kennels and other things,” he said. “We have an education program as well and we present those to the public. We’ve been working with ParentLink in Carstairs, Didsbury and Olds and we’re going to continue that and hopefully expand that program not just for the kids and young adults with families but also with the general public.

“We’ll be housing animals that need homes and connecting them with families for adoption.”

Orlando said the animals will come from a number of places including other shelters, Mountain View County, Didsbury and other municipalities as well.

“They come from people sending us an email and if we can help them we certainly would never refuse an animal that is in need if we’re able to provide a home and care for them, for sure,” he said.

Orlando said the shelter will have space for dogs, cats and the occasional rabbit for now.

“No big animals at this time,” he said. “Who knows, maybe in the future. We’ll be working with other groups and other municipalities if there was a one-off situation with a larger animal.

“We’d refer them to the appropriate not-for-profit shelter or rescue to look after them as well.”

At the grand opening, people can tour the facility and see the dog room, cat room and other spaces.

“We’ll be looking for sponsors as well,” he said. “We’ll also have our sponsorship program out shortly if people have a business and want to promote their business by putting the name on their cat kennel or dog kennel.

“Or you can sponsor a cat for a year and we would provide a plaque and get your name on our website. It’s a pretty big shelter. We’re pretty excited.”

Orlando said the shelter has room for around 10 dogs and 12 cats at this time.

He added that they received a Community Facility Enhancement Program grant from the province for around $12,500, which paid for most of the renovations.

WRHS received a $50,000 loan from the Town of Didsbury in 2015 to help with costs.

Orlando said they’ve been steadily paying that loan off to the town.

WRHS bought the property and the building with money they had raised through fundraising efforts over the years, he said.

“We’re unique,” he said. “We’re a CRA registered charity. We’re always looking for enthusiastic, positive volunteers; business people to maybe serve on our board in the future. We’re always looking for people with different skill sets and different perspectives. We just want to help the animals and the people in the community connect.

“We think Didsbury is a great place to have our shelter in the area for the surrounding communities of Olds, Carstairs, Innisfail and Airdrie. We just want to serve the area as best we can. We want to bring awareness of animal safety and make sure animals get a home with families who want to adopt dogs, cats, rabbits. I’m sure we’ll have other animals in the future.”

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Craig Lindsay

Craig Lindsay is a reporter with the Mountain View Gazette who joined the newspaper in 2016. He covers news, sports and community events in Didsbury, Carstairs and Cremona. He is a photographer and columnist as well.