On a warm December afternoon, Meiko was anxious; pacing in the Alberta SPCA parking lot. The Husky mixed-breed instinctively knew something exciting would happen this day. The nine-year old had been in the care of the Alberta SPCA for about six weeks, the second time in 2020 Meiko had been a resident of our Crisis Care Program. The scene that was about to unfold was not new to him; he had experienced this before.
Meiko’s owner, Dustin, placed his dog in our care so he could go into a treatment program for addictions. Programs like this do not allow pets and many owners refuse to seek help for themselves until they know the animal will be properly cared for. Taking pets from their owners is always a difficult and emotional process; the reunions are the reward.
After 30 minutes, a cab pulls into the parking lot and Meiko instantly starts pulling on his leash; he knows Dustin is in the vehicle. As Dustin jumps out, Meiko sprints to meet him, jumping like a kangaroo once he gets to Dustin, whining happily that his best friend has returned. While Dustin doesn’t have the same bouncing ability, he is equally as excited.
“I made a promise to him years and years ago that I would never forget him,” said Dustin, “and I’d never leave him behind.”
For Dustin, the Crisis Care Program provided a lifeline. “I was able to have the time to focus on the problem instead of focusing on [Meiko],” he said fighting back tears. “So that was a huge relief, and gave me my life back, so that’s huge.”
As the tailgate on the taxi lifts, Meiko knows to jump in. Dustin loads food and other supplies provided to him by the Alberta SPCA that will ensure Meiko is well taken care of as Dustin works to land on his feet and rebuild his life. He has an apartment and a job and is working on maintaining stability, for himself and for Meiko.
Meiko is his motivation for staying on the right track.
“He was my strength when I didn’t have any,” said Dustin as he explained the importance Meiko plays in his life. “So as this journey carries on and he’s getting older, it’s my turn to take care of him and let him be a dog instead of me being me.”
This story is not unique.
When in crisis, pet owners are often unable to focus on their own mental and physical wellbeing until they know that their companion animal will be safe. The Crisis Care Program provides reprieve to pet owners dealing with a life-changing event that impedes on their ability to care for their companion animal(s).
The Alberta SPCA’s Crisis Care Program was launched in 2019. This program is designed for individuals that have run out of safe options, it is a last resort program for individuals experiencing crisis and are unable to care for their animals temporarily.
Refuge should be available to everyone.