Wadena is home to some literal newshounds. That’s because at the back of the Wadena News building is a fully operational animal shelter.
So if you hear howling coming from the newspaper building, it’s probably not coming from a reporter frustrated with a story.
Now, the shelter needs a bigger home.
Andy Labdon, a reporter and photographer at Wadena News, started the shelter in 2018 with the goal of rehabilitating and finding homes for cats and dogs in the area. He took on the secondary job of rescuing animals as the Saskatchewan town faced problems with feral cats.
“Over the two years, I think we picked up 47 feral cats. We neutered them and spayed them. And then I paid for vaccinations and injections so that disease didn’t spread. And it kind of took off from there,” said Labdon.
Labdon, who is originally from the U.K., is a long-time animal lover. In fact, he has 12 dogs of his own.
“As a family growing up, we had anything from foxes to dogs, cats, you name it. We rescued and rehabilitated.”
Before becoming a reporter, Labdon was a truck driver.
“I picked up a dog off the road that was just in the middle of nowhere, which I have a habit of doing. I just cannot leave a dog on its own,” said Labdon.
“The company didn’t like me to have the dog in the truck, so I went out and bought my own semi. And together we traveled … it must have been about a million miles. That was my first dog in Canada.”
Labdon’s 12 dogs come in handy when it comes to running the shelter. He uses his dogs to train the ones that come into the shelter.
“All dogs that are in the shelter are in a shelter for a reason, sadly. Some of them are behavioural problems. So with my pack of dogs, I try to solve those behavioural problems. So when they go to adoption, they’re not coming back again or they’re not causing problems,” Labdon said.
Next stop, Mozart
Local resident Veronica Hermiston recently donated a building located in Mozart, 36 kilometres southwest of Wadena, for the rescue and adoption operation. The shelter is now called Mozart Sympathy Animal Control and Rescue.
Up until now, the shelter has operated due to donations from the community, but Labdon and his team are ready to make the business self-sustainable.
“We don’t want to kind of solely rely on donations because it’s kind of feast or famine with donations. So we want to be 50 per cent self-supporting. And Veronica and I have put an awful lot of our own money into this. And it’s just a passion that we both have,” said Labdon.
He said most of the municipalities in the area don’t have solid animal bylaws.
“I find that there’s animals roaming around everywhere, getting run over, shot or just abandoned because there’s no real law with any teeth to help these animals,” he said.
“We want to get municipalities in the area to take a bit more responsibility and make these bylaws work and make people responsible for their animals.”
Labdon and his shelter partners are currently raising money to help with construction costs for the new shelter in Mozart. He said they aren’t yet sure when Mozart Sympathy Animal Control and Rescue will officially move to Mozart.
In the meantime, Wadena newspaper workers have learned to deal with the howling dogs and cats in the building.