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Emergency: Two desperate northern pups find medical help in Sarnia

Published on

Cathy Dobson

Two stray dogs from isolated communities in Ontario’s far-north are receiving emergency medical care in Sarnia today, thanks to a team of dedicated volunteers and the Sarnia humane society.

Grif, a seven-month-old husky, has a serious break in his front leg while the other leg is badly injured. Buddy, a black shepherd/husky mix, has prostatitis and secondary issues.

Grif and Buddy (forefront), both from isolated northern Ontario communities, are being assessed for their injuries by Dr. Tom Kostuch Monday in Sarnia. (Submitted photo)

Both were rescued by the Northern Reach Rescue Network, a volunteer group based in Thunder Bay that has worked occasionally with the Sarnia humane society for about two years.

With the help of pilot Jeremy Hall of Pilots4Paws, the two dogs were airlifted from their far-north communities to Sarnia on Sunday.

“We were contacted by Northern Reach and they said they were in a real bind,” said Donna Pyette, general manager of the local humane society.

Northern Reach Rescue Network has worked since 2014 at controlling the dog population and helping strays in First Nations communities. They often ask for veterinarian help in Southern Ontario, said Pyette.

Buddy arrives in Sarnia. (Submitted photo)

“They were getting the over-population under control pre-Covid,” she said. “But then no one could go there and the number of dogs in the north just exploded.

“The biggest obstacle is that there is no vet care up there. Even Thunder Bay has wait lists, even for emergencies. It’s just ridiculous.”

A London-area group called Pilots4Paws agreed to fly Grif and Buddy to Sarnia on Sunday. Pyette said she immediately got on the phone to retired local vet Dr. Tom Kostuch and asked for his help.

“He’s an orthopedic surgeon and didn’t hesitate. He is more than happy to help,” she said.

The dogs were greeted at Huron Aviation by humane society employees Carly Bell and Lisa Simpson who took them into care.

Seven-month-old Grif peers from the plane, having arrived in Sarnia with serious injuries. Pilot Jeremy Hall at left. (Submitted photo)

This morning, Grif was assessed by Dr. Kostuch and surgery is planned Wednesday to repair the broken leg using a plate and pins, according to Pyette.

Dr. Kostuch is donating his time and also assessing Buddy. However, at least $5,000 in medical costs are anticipated.

“We expect a full recovery for Grif,” said Pyette. The two dogs are extremely friendly and have bonded despite not knowing one another prior to the flight, she added.

“You can see they’ve become fast friends.”

Pyette thanked Pilots4Paws for the dogs’ emergency flight. Previously, she has needed to drive with volunteers to pick up Northern Reach Rescue dogs.

“We lucked out this time,” she said.

Anyone who wants to help defray the cost of medical care for Grif and Buddy can donate online to , click on Give Now. It is possible to specify what the donation is for.

It’s expected that Grif and Buddy will eventually be up for adoption, said Pyette.

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