Air North is offering free flights to Vancouver.
But only to select, four-legged passengers.
This morning, three fluffy puppies left the Mae Bachur Animal shelter for YVR in a first-class doggy crate.
It’s a maiden voyage.
And if it works, it could become a saving grace for the shelter, which is short of money.
For the last three years, the shelter has been running a deficit, said Mae Bachur treasurer Sarah Steinberg.
Last year it reached $30,000.
And it was also $30,000 the year before.
“We’ve been struggling with finances,” she said.
“We’re always struggling.”
Overrun with animals, and short of funds, the board was searching for solutions when it heard an animal shelter in Victoria was taking dogs from shelters in Northern BC.
“We thought, ‘How about us?’” said Steinberg.
Some calls were made, Air North donated flights, so did Pacific Coastal Airways and Worldwide Animal Travel donated its services.
Now, Flicka, Delilah and Kveldulf, all three-month old shepherd/husky pups, are en route to Victoria.
“I feel like a parent sending her kids off to school,” said Steinberg, who saw the dogs off at 6 a.m. Friday morning.
In Vancouver, Worldwide Animal Travel will meet the plane and give the puppies a couple of hours to romp and pee.
Then, they will be put back in their crate and loaded onto a 12-minute Pacific Coastal flight to Victoria, where shelter staff will meet them.
The puppies will get their shots, their microchips and be spayed and neutered on Wednesday, said Steinberg.
“And by Friday (the Victoria shelter) said they’ll be adopted.”
Last year, the Victoria shelter adopted out 900 dogs and 2,500 cats.
In Whitehorse, Mae Bachur adopted out 213 dogs and 163 cats.
In two weeks, Mae Bachur is shipping five more puppies to Victoria.
“Air North has given us four free flights a year,” said Steinberg.
And it makes more sense to load the crate with puppies, than use it for just one adult dog.
It also saves the Mae Bachur in spay and neuter fees.
“To spay and neuter those three puppies would have cost us $1,000,” said Steinberg.
But in Victoria, the shelter has an in-house vet who spays and neuters animals for about $40, she said.
The Mae Bachur has a policy not to spay or neuter animals until they are six months, but in Victoria, the shelter is doing the surgery as early as eight weeks.
The Victoria shelter also has a huge, 3,000-square-foot play area.
“That’s three of my houses,” said Steinberg with a laugh.
Mae Bachur has an annual budget of $396,000. More than 60 per cent of its funding comes from fundraising and donations. And Alpine Vet and the Feed Store give the shelter breaks.
The Yukon government gives Mae Bachur $79,500 in annual funding. Adoption revenue accounts for roughly 18 per cent of its earnings.
“We are pretty much hand to mouth,” said Steinberg
In Victoria, the shelter also gets more than 60 per cent of its revenue from fundraising, she said.
“It’s amazing how generous people are.”
Contact Genesee Keevil at