Angels of Hope Animal Rescue is doing everything they can to help animals in the local and surrounding areas find their ‘furever’ homes, but they need a little help to achieve their goals. The non-profit group, established in Esterhazy, takes in lost, unwanted or abused animals, makes sure they get the veterinary care they need, and then finds them loving homes.
Every animal that comes into their hands is vet checked, and the group then undergoes a search for the animal’s owner. If the owner can’t be located, the animal is given all of its shots, dewormed, treated for ear mites and even spayed or neutered if necessary. Then when the animal is ready, Angels of Hope put it up for adoption. All they ask in return is a donation in any amount, and of course all of the love their furry new friends can handle.
“We want our animals to go to a good home, and that’s what our main goal is,” said Terry Tocker, who spearheaded Angels of Hope.
The animal rescue started out as a small local operation one year ago, and has since gained the support of 56 members in Esterhazy, Grayson, Rockanville, Saltcoats, Round Lake, Broadview and Cowessess, just to name a few, though only a small handful of members are currently responsible for the care of the animals.
“We know we’re a small group, but every little bit – it all adds up to make a big difference in the world of animals that are neglected or abused or homeless. We try to do what we can with what we have, and we’re very proud of what we do. At least it’s something.”
To date, Angels of Hope Animal Rescue has touched the lives of about 135 cats and dogs so far, with fifty of them now safe and sound in their new homes. They have also reunited numerous pets with their original owners, which has been just as rewarding.
One de-clawed cat was found on the streets in Esterhazy in the dead of winter, and Angels of Hope managed to find its owner, after getting in touch with the local vet and calling everyone in the area that had had their cats de-clawed.
The owner, who had since moved to Yorkton, had been certain that the cat was dead, as she had been missing for three months.
“I called her in Yorkton, and she was bawling, her kids were bawling. They wanted to come that night and pick up little Lily.”
The roads were icy and it was late, so Tocker convinced them to wait until morning, but they were happily reunited the next day.
“That in itself was worth everything. Just to know that that cat was being reunited with those little kids, who were so lost without it, and the rest of the family.”
Around Easter time, a young man came across a dog that had been hit by a car, and was laying in a ditch. He took it home and promptly called Tocker, who took the dog to the vet. The pooch was in such rough shape that she couldn’t be treated locally and so Tocker brought the dog to the veterinary teaching school at the University of Saskatoon. A surgeon was able to fix her injuries, after numerous operations and procedures, to the tune of $4,800. Angels of Hope raised the money through fundraising over about two-and-a-half months. They called her Easter Lily.
“The nicest thing about Easter Lily is that the surgeon who performed her surgery actually adopted her,” Tocker said. The dog remains in Saskatoon to this day, healthy and safe with her new owner.
Even if an animal is not so seriously injured, the group can spend anywhere from $200 to $700 to get them back into shape, but they’ve never turned an animal away.
“When the vet tells us ‘This is the condition, and this will be the cost,’ we just say, ‘You know what? Work your magic. We’re a no-kill animal rescue,” Tocker said.
They raise whatever they need to raise for each individual animal through fundraising events and general donations.
“We’ve just been forging ahead. We have gone through a lot of growing pains, and there’s more to come, I’m sure, but we’re doing this for the animals, not for our own purposes.”
The most important part of the process, and the most challenging, is finding foster families willing to take in animals until a permanent home can be found.
“We don’t actually have a building with kennels where we can take animals and keep them there until we can find a home for them,” Tocker explained.
Karen and Curtis Agecoutay of Cowessess have decided to step up and become foster ‘parents.’ Their beloved Golden Retriever, whom they had had for 14 years, passed away in May. Shortly thereafter, they happened upon a poster of an animal up for adoption through Angels of Hope. Then in August, they finally felt ready to welcome a new member into their family, so they adopted a puppy from the animal rescue. They were so happy with the whole process that they decided to take it a step further.
“We were just so impressed with what they were doing and how they were doing it that we decided to become members and to foster animals,” Karen said.
She has always been an avid animal-lover, and it breaks her heart to see them being abused and neglected.
“Animals are innocent. Even the ones that people consider mean – who makes them that way? It’s not the animals, it’s the owners who train them to be that way.”
Cowessess First Nation has fully supported the animal rescue. They recently created a new bylaw stating that all stray dogs and cats are required to be turned in to Angels of Hope, rather than being destroyed after 72 hours. Five other communities, including Russell, Esterhazy and Saltcoats, have also agreed to implement the bylaw, and Angels of Hope members plan to work with other towns in hopes of gaining more support.
Pens are now being set up at Cowessess to house a limited number of animals, and once complete, will be located beside the Cowessess Golf Course.
Three of the dogs currently looking for their forever homes are: Buddy, a male one-year-old golden lab cross; Pugsley, a pug cross; Angel, a two-year-old lab / Syberian Husky cross; and Basil, a 7-year-old male Briard Retriever. There are also at least four cats in need of homes.
Anyone who would like to adopt or foster an animal, or make a donation to help keep Angels of Hope going, can contact Terry Tocker at 1-306-745-3415,
Karen Agecoutay at 306-696-3416, or go to the Angels of Hope Animal Rescue Facebook page for more information.