Swift action by animal advocates and donors during a cold Minnesota January will leave close to 160 outdoor dogs on the Leech Lake Reservation sitting pretty in hay-insulated igloos.
When Leech Lake Legacy’s Marilou Chanrasmi and American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (ASPCA) Kelli Harmon made a recent visit to the Leech Lake Reservation, they noted several dogs running around outdoors. Huddled next to one house, trying to stay warm, a black dog shivered. The women snapped a photo.
In the days that followed, weather forecasts of temperatures plunging well below zero kept bringing those images back to mind, causing increasing worry in both Chanrasmi and Harmon. Understanding that many small dogs live inside on the reservation, while many of the large dogs remain out-of-doors year-round, the women talked about how useful it would be to have igloos with hay insulation to give the dogs shelter.
Chanrasmi posted the photo of the chilled black dog on the Leech Lake Legacy Facebook page, with a plea for donations of funds, hay, and igloos to help the dogs. Resonating with many Midwesterners who were facing the coldest week of the winter so far, the photo quickly went viral, resulting in an outpouring of monetary donations and eight donated igloos. One large individual donation came from “Bart the Dumpster Dog” on the Red Lake Reservation. Bart is a rescued dog, found by a dumpster in Red Lake Reservation as a puppy.
Harmon secured a $1,600 ASPCA grant and the ASPCA reached out to contacts with Petsmart Charities. The response was fast—and dramatic. In just a few days, Petsmart Charities donated 150 igloos, which were distributed by the Tribal Police. Additionally, Petsmart Charities donated Kong toys, to give the dogs something to occupy themselves with while they relax in the igloos. The ASPCA grant will be used to purchase dog houses for the Red Lake Reservation.
The 150 igloos donated by Petsmart Charities and the 8 igloos and monetary donations by individuals represent the beginning of a new Leech Lake Legacy initiative, the Yukon Project. The eventual goal of the project is to provide shelter for all of the outdoor dogs on the reservation.
“We are humbled and grateful for the partnership with the Tribal Police, Petsmart Charities, the ASPCA, and individual donors to provide these dogs with much-needed shelter,” said Chanrasmi.
For more information, or to make a donation, go to http://leechlakelegacy.org.