Wendy contacted OFW after self-discharging herself from hospital so she could go check on her dog, Monkey, who had been left alone for two days, while Wendy was in the hospital. Wendy was going to be staying in the hospital for an extended period of time and had no one to help her care for Monkey.
Staff from the OFW department met Wendy the following day to pick up Monkey. It was glaringly obvious that she was very stressed and worried about leaving Monkey again and going back to the hospital. Monkey was brought into the Crisis Care Program and Wendy was able to return to the hospital.
One week after Monkey entered our care, Wendy’s brother called, panicked and very concerned over where Monkey was and who was looking after him. Her brother, Leonard, said that he found an OFW pamphlet in Wendy’s purse and reached out to try to find Monkey. Leonard let the OFW team know that Wendy had suffered a heart attack and was in a coma that she would likely not wake up from.
Two weeks after the initial conversation with Leonard, he called again informing the OFW team that Wendy had passed away. He was hopeful that Monkey would be able to attend the funeral as he was the most important thing in Wendy’s life.
Wendy’s family was very grateful that Monkey could attend the funeral; Wendy did not have any children in her life, but had many dogs that she viewed as her children. As a final act of brotherly love, Leonard made plans to spread Wendy’s ashes at a dog park, he felt she would be happiest there.
Monkey was eventually discharged from our program and transferred to the care of Wendy’s family friend.
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.