Alberta dogs will be the beneficiary of a pilot program between the Alberta SPCA Edmonton Catholic Schools. Students at six different schools are building insulated dog houses in their construction classes. The houses will then be offered to needy dogs and their families. The families will be identified by Peace Officers through their regular duties.
“I can’t express how happy I am right now,” said Alberta SPCA Peace Officer Karen Stevenson as she watched students putting together the dog houses. It was Stevenson who first proposed the idea of having students build dog houses.
“It’s a project our whole office has been working on for a very long time,” added Stevenson, “And when I walked in today, it just made me smile.”
The Alberta SPCA provided the materials and plans to the schools for the dog houses. The money to buy the supplies was raised by the Alberta SPCA on Giving Tuesday.
One of the most common complaints the Alberta SPCA receives is a lack of shelter for animals, especially for dog. Peace Officer Stevenson says it’s not unusual for her to find a dog on a rural property where the shelter being provided is simply a space under an abandoned car. In other cases, straw bales are being used as the shelter, but the dog has ripped them apart.
“So to see them have a house like this where they can’t rip it apart and they have something to go inside instead of under is truly life-changing for that animal,” says Stevenson.
For the students involved, the project offers the opportunity to work on something that has social benefits.
“It feels good helping, just really anything,” says Jordan Taubert, a grade nine student at St. John XXIII school in southwest Edmonton.
“I’m a dog lover,” says Taubert, “and knowing that I’m helping dogs just fills me with love.”
The dog houses are insulated in all four walls, in the roof and in the floor. That ensures that the dog’s own body heat will quickly create warmth in the house, even on the coldest days.
“The kids have played a lot of hide-and-go-seek inside the dog houses and have tested them all out,” says Chris Smith, the construction teacher at St. John XXIII School, “And they all say they would live in one of these outside for several days, for sure.”
The Animal Protection Act in Alberta requires animal owners to provide shelter to all animals that is appropriate for the species and breed of the animal. Even if a dog is a hearty, outside breed like a Great Pyrenees, a shelter must be available for the dog to use, if he so chooses.
The pilot program will see 22 dog houses built this winter and spring. And while no decision has been made on what happens with the dog house building project beyond this school year, everyone agrees it would be nice to continue with it in the years to come.