I found it difficult to write this post. Not because it is sad, and it is, but because I am angry.
When I first looked in Delaney’s eyes I saw resigned wisdom. He had a story to tell, but not the will to do so. The light of his spirit was dim but impactful. The way he held his head told me he had once been a proud and mighty northern dog, but no longer. Tumours now consumed his body and the patches of mange on his skin spoke to his severely weakened immune system. We had known, when we agreed to take him, that there wasn’t much hope for this boy. Still every dog deserves a chance.
Delaney was from Attawapiskat and his people loved him. They tried to help him but without vet care little could be done. They conferred with our rescue worker Floyd and he with us, but it wasn’t enough. They spoke to vets over the phone and were sent meds for the mange but without a physical examination, nothing could be sent for the tumours or pain. The family asked if we would take him. Delaney was then flown out of Attawapiskat.
A volunteer drove from Bracebridge to Timmins to meet Delaney’s plane then brought him straight back to us. A long drive and many miles but we all knew how this dog was suffering He arrived after midnight and as I settled him in I felt especially glad we had been able to help. Some would have seen him as a lost cause.
It didn’t take the vets long to give us a diagnosis. His condition was evident and tumours hung from his belly. They explained the arduous procedures of finding additional, hidden cancer in a six-year-old dog and the insidiousness of this unneutered male producing enough estrogen to cause such drooping mammary tumours. There was little to argue but still I paused. Delaney lifted his paw and placed it on Paul’s knee then turned his head to look at me. He was imploring us to do the right thing. He wanted me to let go. The vet’s description of tumours rupturing and bursting apart shattered my wishful thinking of taking him home for just a while longer. It was wrong of me to keep him waiting so I kissed him on the forehead and whispered sweetness and joy. Shortly after, Delaney was gone.
Delaney is more than a sad ending. He stands for something that has gone terribly wrong. He had to be given up so as not to suffer longer. Attawapiskat is a remote fly-in community that could not provide for Delaney’s needs and flight fares south to a vet can be prohibitive. Had he stayed in Attawapiskat he would have suffered slowly to death unless his owners had the fortitude to have a bullet shot through his head to end his life. Gasps, tears and blame change nothing. Only acceptance and action mattered to Delaney and his family. This dog deserved a chance. His family deserved peace of mind. The people who donate to rescue work deserve to know their dollars are productive. Isolated communities deserve to know people will come and do their part when needed.
What no one deserves is an airline profiting from unmet needs, suffering and grief. For years we were able to fly dogs out of Attawapiskat without charge and we didn’t pay to send crates back up for the next dogs in need. We sent skid loads of free dog food up for the community without concern over the cost. This partnership of goodwill changed three years ago following a Facebook campaign of false accusations and lies though. I refuse to delve back into the pettiness and ignorance of it all but it is discussed on our web page as the Legal Defence category under the About heading on the navigation bar. A handful of people chose to cause harm and one woman, who worked at an airline, vowed she would have us blacklisted with every airline that flew in and out of Attawapiskat. She beat her chest with power and pride while risking the lives of dogs in need and slowing rescue work almost to a halt.
The people spearheading the assault on MPR were connected to a rescue in the Barrie area so our hope was that, after attempting to ruin us, they would step up and take over where we had been forced to leave off. It didn’t matter who helped the dogs, as long as someone did. There was a flutter of activity from the other rescue group but it didn’t last. As soon as the work became logistically difficult and costly they disappeared. The dogs didn’t though, nor did their hardships.
Floyd, our rescue worker in Attawapiskat was bullied and shamed but still, he took in any dog he could. We, in turn, paid between $125 plus tax for a pup and $430 plus tax for an adult dog to fly them out. I initially thought it was important for us to demonstrate our reasonableness in the hopes that others would come to their senses as well, but they didn’t.
The situation got even worse at the end of 2017. We received an invoice in the amount of $900 to fly eighteen bags of free dog food from Timmins to Attawapiskat. Winter was looming and the dogs can suffer terribly through the bitter cold. Being fed is often their only hope of survival.
I simply couldn’t believe the people in control at Air Creebec knew what was happening to the dogs of Attawapiskat because of a few small-minded people. We sent registered letters, that required a signature on receipt, to each member on the Air Creebec board. I outlined the work we had been doing for sixteen years and asked them to renew the support they had once given so generously. I referred to the Facebook campaign of lies and explained how I had faced three independent police investigations to establish I had done nothing wrong. The claims of one airline employee were unfounded and without merit. They had nothing to worry about in the way of their corporate image. Not one of the nine directors replied.
I hoped their reply would come in the way of action so tried again to send food north. The next quote we received was for 350 pounds of free dog food and was $794.96. The third was for 500 pounds and was $1,135.65. I communicated with the new Chief of Attawapiskat and while he supports our work, the Band Council sent a letter stating they would support any rescue other than ours. They claim it is because of our conduct in the community. I wrote asking if they were referring to the free vet clinics we hosted or the complimentary veterinary meds and dog food we provided for the community that caused their concern. Perhaps it was the work we did, at the request of their own police officers, to remove troublesome dogs that posed a threat to the community that upset them. Again, no response. Floyd collected almost 400 signatures from people who wanted our continued help within the community but to no avail.
We have rescued over 900 dogs from Attawapiskat alone and spayed/neutered over 500 so maybe we have done enough. Perhaps the police could call someone else when they need a potentially nasty dog removed so it won’t chase and threaten young children. Delaney was dog number 1,697 which does seem like enough but he needed us in our seventeenth year of our rescue work so the work isn’t done, isn’t done. Paul and I are older now and I admit to being tired. Most of all though, I am angry.
Delaney makes the point better than any words I can find though. He was worth the airfare regardless of whether we should have to pay it or not. He was worth the cost of gas for the trip to Timmins and back. He was entitled to vet care and he deserved to die peacefully. Delaney is not just a sad ending, he is a call to action.
We rescue dogs in need. We remove the threat a starving dog poses when chasing down a child for food they may carry and we prevent dogs from being shot and killed. We are able to lesson the burden of grief for people whose dogs are severely ill or injured. The work is a struggle, without financial gain or profit. The work costs more than it should but we can’t change that. The work is rewarding and sets a heart to singing. I promised Delaney I would find a way. Please stand up, be counted and matter. If you know of media that would be interested in advancing our cause please have them contact me by phone, 705-644-3733 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Or donate what you can through PayPal on our web site, by e-transfer or send a cheque to 1490 Falkenburg Rd. Bracebridge Ontario. P1L 1X4. Include an address and we will send a tax receipt.
I can’t be angry alone. We need a village of angry people who are willing to overcome the harm caused by nasty people and a selfish corporation. The village includes you, and you and you and you and . . . Please.