Why We Exist
Blake, a shepherd cross, was found wandering near the highway in Kananaskis Country by a Park Ranger. He was limping, his hair was matted, and he was extremely skinny. When the Ranger called he came immediately, though slowly because of his limp.
The Park Ranger brought him to the Bow Valley SPCA, and in turn we immediately took him to the local veterinarian for a diagnosis. It turned out that Blake was about one year old, had probably been wandering for about a month with no food, and had a severely broken hip joint.
The local veterinarian said that he could not repair the injury to Blake’s hip because the severity of the break and its proximity to the hip joint. However, the hip joint could be repaired if we took Blake to an orthopaedic surgeon in Calgary. The alternative was to amputate the leg.
Our veterinarian presented these alternatives to the board of directors. He could amputate Blake’s leg for about $200 or we could spend $5,000 to have his hip repaired.
Our organization was less than one year old at the time and we had no contingencies for exceptional veterinary costs. We had established our organization as a no kill, and no cage adoption center, but until this “moment of truth” we had not considered the implications of those values and promises. The decision about Blake, made us confront ourselves about those values.
The choice was between saving money with the result being a one year old, three legged dog, versus spending money we did not have with the result being a young healthy, four-legged dog.
We decided that quality of life was more important than saving money and that we would find a way to manage the costs. This choice has informed our all of our subsequent decision making with regard to health. In essence, we want the best health care possible for dogs and cats in our care and treat them as if they are members of our family.
Blake showed us what it really means to be a no cage, no kill shelter.
As it turns out, we made a very wise investment. Blake went on to become a certified avalanche rescue dog. He even served at the Para-Olympics in British Columbia. Now retired, Blake still comes to the Bow Valley SPCA on a regular basis to work with the dogs that need a calm canine friend.
Blake has taught us what is means to “Pay it forward”.