When Shelley Cuthbert pulled up to the dog yard in Haines Junction on Sunday, she knew the huskies were going to be in bad shape.
“But this was the worst I’ve seen, and I’ve lived in all three territories,” said Cuthbert, who is the president of Humane Society Yukon.
The 10 sled dogs were cowering in their own feces.
They were emaciated, some had open wounds and many had serious infections.
“It is so sad to see dogs in this condition,” said Cuthbert. “I wish we’d been called sooner.”
The humane society got a complaint about the mistreated dogs last week.
But rescuing dogs is not common practice for the Whitehorse shelter.
“In fact, this is the first time the shelter has done a rescue, to my knowledge,” said Cuthbert.
“The animals are usually brought to us.”
The humane society is not releasing the name of the dogs’ owner, but Cuthbert said that when they contacted him, he agreed to surrender the huskies.
But getting the dogs to Whitehorse wasn’t easy.
The society didn’t have enough large kennels for the dogs or a vehicle to transport them.
That’s when The Feed Store stepped in, donating 11 kennels. Ovation Construction donated a large passenger van to move the animals.
On their own time, Cuthbert and humane society education director Marta Keller drove to Haines Junction to collect the dogs.
“It was stressful, and they barked all the way to Whitehorse,” said Keller.
“But I feel good about what we’ve done.”
Two of the dogs were taken straight to the vet and are now on antibiotics for serious infections.
Another has lost sight in one eye, also from infection.
On Thursday, the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter in Whitehorse was bursting at the seams.
It has so many dogs on the premises, some are being forced to sleep outside.
“We are desperately looking for people to foster dogs,” said Keller.
Washed and brushed, the fluffy sled dogs were settling into their new digs, munching on bones and getting used to three square meals a day.
But their healing wounds and protruding hip bones remain a visible reminder of what they’ve been through.
Now that the shelter has started rescuing dogs, Cuthbert expects more animal-cruelty complaints to start rolling in.
“We don’t want people to let their dogs get to this point,” she said. “Please surrender them before this. We understand. We’re not here to judge, we’re here to help.”
Still, the animal shelter can only do so much.
“There is a capacity to what we can do,” said Cuthbert. “It all depends on funding.”
This year, the humane society has applied for more territorial funding to expand its services.
“We want to get a bigger facility and start a livestock rescue,” said Cuthbert. “Now, we’re just waiting to see if we get the funding.”
In the interim, the shelter is urging Yukoners to come forward if they want to adopt or foster dogs.
“We are full, full, full. We can’t take any more animals right now,” she said.
To make matters worse, the shelter was broken into twice in the last month. Two cash registers were smashed, as well as several windows, which remain boarded up.
“To replace the tills and the windows will cost roughly $3,000,” said Cuthbert. “That’s $3,000 that could be going to the animals.”
The Mae Bachur Animal Shelter is open Tuesday through Friday from noon to 7 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.
Contact Genesee Keevil at