The Dogs of Milk River

Cranbrook resident fundraising for rescued canines.

Two hundred dogs were rescued from a property in Milk River in January.

Two hundred dogs were rescued from a property in Milk River in January.

A Cranbrook woman is spearheading an effort to raise money and collect donations for an animal shelter in Alberta that is housing half a dozen dogs that were rescued in January.

Ruth Billmann is organizing a donation drive for an animal shelter in High River that is housing dogs that were seized from a property in Milk River three weeks ago.

Two-hundred dogs were rescued after months of neglect and were suffering from dehydration, malnutrition and other medical issues. Most have been placed in foster homes, while a few are currently being treated at the Heaven Can Wait Animal Rescue Foundation.

Billmann is encouraging anyone to drop by Top Crop or Just 4 Pets to donate items such as dog food, blankets, toys, collars and leashes that will be sent to High River.

There is also a bottle drive in the works, and people can drop any empties at both locations as well.

However, financial donations are the most helpful at this point, because they’ll go directly towards veterinarian bills that have accumulated as a result of treating so many animals.

“The main concern right now is money because the vet bills are horrendous,” said Billmann. “We have the phone numbers and the addresses of the veterinarians in Calgary who are taking care of these animals at different shelters.

“So the money will be donated on accounts at these veterinarian clinics so whichever organization brings in one of these dogs, they can benefit from that.”

It’s a cause that is close to Billmann’s heart.

“I started with it because High River in Alberta has eight of these dogs and that’s where I adopted my dog way back, so I kind of have a connection with them so that’s how the whole things started,” she said.

“We all love pets and so I just got the okay to go big with this through the stores, because that way we can hopefully get a lot more people to bring something in.”

In addition to adopting her dog out of High River, there’s also a previous connection of helping out during the flood two years ago.

“My dog comes from High River Heaven Can Wait Rescue and we helped them already when the big flood was in High River,” Billmann said. “We did a big sale for them here and now they took eight of these dogs in so that’s how it all started.

“We’re going there this weekend to drop off food donations already.”

She is also reaching out to other animal shelters in the southern Alberta to see if there are any more that are working with the Milk River dogs.

There is no deadline for donations or bottle drive drop-offs, she added.

“It’s going to be a long term thing with these dogs,” she said.