Blinded puppy searches for home

In a glass enclosure at the front of the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter, a puppy knocks around a rubber toy.

In a glass enclosure at the front of the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter, a puppy knocks around a rubber toy.

Back and forth several times, Koa, only 12 weeks old, stops before thumping the toy.

It’s a brief pause, but one other rambunctious puppies wouldn’t need.

Koa is blind.

But she wasn’t born that way.

Koa was rescued last month from a group of people behind the Salvation Army offices who were force-feeding her alcohol.

Shelter workers believe shadows are the best Koa can see, maybe — blindness is tough to measure.

“She has serious vision problems but (the severity) is uncertain right now,” said shelter treasurer Sarah Steinberg.

Otherwise, Koa, a mixed breed, is a healthy, playful dog.

She’s doing well,” said Steinberg.

The shelter is looking for a permanent home for Koa, a home that understands she will need a little extra attention.

“Koa has a few special needs, but it’s more about extra attention,” said Steinberg.

“There’s bound to be some extra care, but dogs are smart and they compensate.”

Koa was brought to the humane society on July 15, when she was about six weeks old. She was rescued from behind the Salvation Army the day before.

There were signs Koa was intoxicated, and while the cause of her blindness hasn’t been confirmed, it’s believed to be the booze that did it.

This is a clear case of animal abuse, said Steinberg.

She isn’t aware of similar instances of alcohol poisoning in dogs.

The people responsible for feeding Koa alcohol haven’t been identified.

It’s not confirmed if those involved have been cited with animal cruelty charges.

Animal rights supporters have long criticized the level of official animal protection in the territory.

The territory’s Animal Protection Act lacks real power to prevent cruelty to animals or to deter owners from harming their pets.

Steinberg wouldn’t say how stronger legislation might have affected those who abused Koa.

Changes to the act are being drafted now and could be introduced in the legislature this fall, said a Community Services spokesperson.

In May, the territory released a 22-page document listing proposed amendments to the act.

It includes increased penalties for animal abuse and stronger powers for enforcement officers.

Fines for violating the act would increase to $10,000 from $500 and maximum jail time would rise to two years from six months.

To adopt Koa, call the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter at 633-6019.

The Humane Society wants to remind those who witness incidents of animal abuse to immediately report the situation to the city of Whitehorse bylaw services or the RCMP, if they’re in a rural area.