Annual Walk to Stop Animal Abuse takes place on Animal Abuse Prevention Day
By Dawn Booth, Connect Weekly
The staff and volunteers of the Fort McMurray SPCA are welcoming the community to join them in celebrating their milestone anniversary of the 5th annual Walk to Stop Animal Abuse on April 23.
“Local cases of animals being beaten, abused, abandoned and neglected are disturbing,” said Executive Director of the Fort McMurray SPCA Tara Clarke. “The fact that hundreds of pet owners join us every year to take a stand, raise awareness and pledges to make a difference, is inspiring.”
Clarke said many of the annual four-legged walkers are former shelter residents and it’s “extremely rewarding to see them and their humans build a legacy of kindness and empathy for the next rescued animal who needs it one step at a time through our walk.”
The anniversary celebration is set to be held at the Syne Park with a full day of activities starting at 8 a.m. with a paw-cake (pancake) breakfast hosted for the first time by the IAFF Local 2494 Fort McMurray Firefighters with food provided by Save On Foods.
Additional to the 2016 event will be the new RESCUED Love bandanas sponsored by MLAs Brian Jean and Tany Yao. Custom FMSPCA swag will also be available for guests to purchase. All of the proceeds will go towards animals in need in our community. After the Walk, a BBQ lunch will be prepared by the Fort McMurray Kinsmen Club.
This year’s event is extra meaningful because it lands on the region’s Animal Abuse Prevention Day, which was proclaimed by Mayor Melissa Blake on April 4, 2016.
The special day was first proclaimed in British Columbia, after private resident Wade Shaw requested a provincial proclamation as a memorial to 56 sled dogs who were slayed in Whistler, B.C. The local SPCA was inspired to take part and has been helping raise awareness and funding to put a stop to animal abuse since 2012.
Clarke further explained that it’s been a decade since the Province of Alberta has updated its Animal Protection Act. According to the 2011 Canadian Animal Protection Laws Ranking, the province is ranked at the bottom of the tier in regards to “overall strength and comprehensiveness of animal protection legislation.”
She hopes the local SPCA can encourage other Alberta communities to take action, join in on taking a pledge and host awareness campaigns.
“The FMSPCA believes that one key action people, families, and pet owners can do is raise awareness in their own communities that animal cruelty is not acceptable,” she said. “The FMSPCA will also have petitions available at the Walk for participants to sign calling on the Federal Government to update the Criminal Code.”
This petition states: “moving animals out of the property section of the code, making horrendous acts such as training dogs to fight a crime, providing law enforcement animals additional protection and taking steps to ensure prosecutions of offenders can be carried out more successfully.”
According to a release, the pledges from the annual walk support the Isabella “Izzy” Paws Fund, which provides essential medical treatment and aid to animals who have suffered from abuse and neglect.
The release further stated: “The Fund was named after Isabelle, a 12-week puppy rescued by the FMSPCA whose injuries were the worst case of abuse that the FMSPCA had seen.”
Thanks to the donations from residents, Izzy was able to receive surgery, and now lives a happy life in her forever home.
For residents interested in taking part in this year’s Walk, pledge forms are made available online at www.fortmcmurrayspca.ca. For more information on the event, organizers are asking to keep up-to-date on the Fort McMurray SPCA’s Facebook page.