Non-profits and local businesses have combined forces to plan the largest charity dog wash in the history of the Animal Cancer Therapy Subsidization Society (ACTSS), right in St. Albert.
Jennifer Stelfox, past-president and founder of ACTSS, says it’s going to be an exciting event.
“We’ve never gone to the magnitude that we’re going to for the one that’s happening in St. Albert. This is the largest thing we’ve done for the dog wash,” she says.
The event, which takes place on May 27, will offer dog washes by donation as a way to raise money for ACTSS.
ACTSS is an Alberta charity that raises funds to help subsidize costs of cancer treatments for pets where their owners can’t afford the expensive treatment.
At the event people can donate money to get their pets washed by groomers from the Alberta School of Dog Groomers at Clippin’ Along, the coin-operated dog wash next door and the Tudor Glen Veterinary Hospital.
Dr. Meghan McCarty, veterinarian at the Tudor Glen Veterinary Hospital, says costs add up quickly for cancer treatment.
“It can become very expensive depending on the type of cancer, how it’s treated and what’s needed,” she says. “There’s a list as long as this clinic on types of cancer that a pet can get, so it varies.”
In one year she says she’ll treat about six pets with cancer. McCarty says it’s not often that she has had owners request the subsidies.
“Even though I haven’t had to refer many, it’s still nice to know that the funds are there if anyone finds themselves in a situation where they need to access it,” she says.
Last year around a dozen Dog Wash to Help Pets Live with Cancer events took place across Alberta. In total ACTSS raised around $6,000 and bathed over 200 dogs.
This year ACTSS has set a fundraising goal of roughly $20,000 combined from the 20 dog washes happening across Alberta.
Courageous Companions, an organization that provides service dogs for veterans and first responders with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), has also jumped on board to run the operations of the day.
From taking pets from kennels to washing tubs, volunteers from the non-profit will make sure the dog wash runs smoothly.
The charity will also host a barbecue in the Tudor Glen Veterinary Hospital parking lot from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Food is by donation with all proceeds from the barbecue going towards Courageous Companions.
John Dugas, chairman of Courageous Companions, says the barbecue will help raise funds to provide more resources for the charity.
Dugas, 49, became involved with the Courageous Companions after receiving his own service dog, Mia, 14 months ago.
“My dog does a lot for me,” he says. “She provides a lot of psychiatric support for me and my PTSD. She has interruptive behaviours she does so when I’m doing something I shouldn’t be, then she knows when to intervene.”
He says he served in the army for 22 years and another eight years in the army reserves. Dugas has completed four tours in Yugoslavia and has served as a combat diver in the army.
He has also been involved with three domestic operations: the 1997 Red River floods in Manitoba, the 1998 Quebec ice storms and the 1998 Swissair 111 aircraft crash.
The Canada-wide charity trains service dogs to help veterans or first responders who primarily have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The program runs in two parts: training the dog and training the handler.
“A service dog and a handler need to bond. A dog will be trained but then the handler also needs to learn how to work with a dog,” he says.
Since each individual has unique needs, a service dog is trained specifically for the individual.
“Some people might have mobility issues because they’ve lost a limb while in service,” he says. “Others might have other specific needs.”
Chantel Pearce, owner of Clippin’ Along, says she jumped at the chance to get involved with the dog wash.
“We decided that this would be a great opportunity because it is cancer awareness month, so it’s our way of pitching in,” she says.
Pearce and three other staff members at Clippin’ Along will assist the Alberta School of Dog Groomers in washing dogs throughout the day.
Stelfox says they expect between 40 to 60 dogs to line up for a bath at the Tudor Glen strip mall. The event is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.