Two transport aircraft used to help rescue 40 dogs

Chrissy Wade, Aaron Peltier and Sam Miller travelled to the Sandy Lake First Nation to rescue 40 dogs, bringing with them warm winter clothes for the community.

Chrissy Wade thanks Manitoulin for making airlift possible

SANDY LAKE––Chrissy Wade of Sheguiandah recently led a crusade to rescue and find shelter for 40 dogs from Sandy Lake First Nation, thanks to support from the community, the generosity of Manitoulin residents and countless volunteers from across the North.

“While working for Health Canada providing dental services to remote Northern fly-in communities I saw a lot of stray dogs in need of help,” said Ms. Wade, a dental hygienist. “I could see the people really cared about and loved their animals, but dog food is really expensive up there and there are no resources to help the animals.”

Ms. Wade also recognized a need for winter boots, clothing and bedding in the impoverished northern reserves and started rallying friends and family back home to collect winter clothing and bedding to fill up her travel allotment and bring resources back with her from the Island to the Northern communities.

Throughout the last year-and-a-half Ms. Wade collected and brought donations with her to the communities of Attawapiskat, Fort Hope, Muskrat Dam First Nation and Sandy Lake, as well as bringing back stray or surrendered dogs to various Sudbury area dog shelters.

In mid-November Ms. Wade organized her largest single donation delivery and animal rescue yet, chartering two planes and bringing 4,000 pounds of clothing, toys, bedding, dog food, leashes, collars and vials of the parvovirus vaccine (for area puppies) to Sandy Lake and bringing back with her 40 dogs and puppies in need of homes.

“I did a few stints (while working for Health Canada) in Sandy Lake and the community and the people really touched my heart,” Ms. Wade told The Expositor. “I wanted to do something to help them for the holidays and to get out any animals in need.”

Ms. Wade, who now works as a dental assistant in Wikwemikong, got to work collecting donations and fundraising to charter the planes to transport the items up north. Through a dance at the Little Current Legion and many generous donations from Manitoulin residents and organizations Ms. Wade raised enough money for the charters.

“Manitoulin Transport shipped a lot of the donations to Red Lake where one of the chartered planes departed from and delivered the items to Sandy Lake,” explained Ms. Wade. “Myself, Aaron (Peltier, Ms. Wade’s husband) and Sam Miller (fellow Islander) flew on the second charter out of Thunder Bay.”

“When we got to Sandy Lake community members with trucks were waiting to help us transport the donation items to the community hall to be distributed,” continued Ms. Wade. People were lined up for the clothes when we got to the hall; there was definitely a need and everyone was so grateful.”

Two of the 40 rescued dogs from the Sandy Lake First Nation.
Two of the 40 rescued dogs from the Sandy Lake First Nation.

Prior to Ms. Wade’s arrival, Sandy Lake community volunteers rounded up area stray dogs that were confirmed homeless and collected puppies and dogs that people had surrendered.

“It was really a team effort,” shared Ms. Wade of her work with the community. “We had enough crates and space to take 40 dogs and puppies back with us, but we still had to leave some behind. It was heart breaking.”

After landing in Thunder Bay Ms. Wade used a 16 foot trailer she had been loaned to transport the dogs to Schreiber where an emergency rescue team met her to feed, water, walk and change the dog’s bedding before travelling to Sudbury to Pet Save where another team helped wash, deworm and process all the animals. The dogs were then divided between various shelters in Sudbury.

“Most of the dogs have already been adopted out,” Ms. Wade was pleased to report. “I just found out last night that all the dogs have found families that were at the Saints Animal Shelter.”

“I am overly impressed with the abundant generosity of people on Manitoulin that donated and helped pay to charter the planes,” Ms. Wade added. “It is thanks to the dedication and effort of so many people that helped make a difference in the lives of the people and animals of Sandy Lake. Thank you to everyone who helped.”

Not only has Ms. Wade helped many animals and Northern communities, but her work has also inspired others to help.

“A young woman in Marathon heard about me and wanted to go into Sandy Lake for the rest of the dogs,” shared Ms. Wade. “I gave her my contacts and she got to work. The Toronto Humane Society heard about her quest and paid for her whole charter and she was able to rescue another 45 dogs.”

Ms. Wade said that groups and veterinarians have come forward as well, offering to run spay and neuter programs in Sandy Lake and other Northern communities in need.

“It is great that so many people want to help,” said Ms. Wade. “As I said, these are great communities that care for their pets, they just need some assistance. It’s cool how everything has snowballed.”

If you are interested in donating contact Chrissy Wade at 705-368-3182.