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Blake’s Story: How A Dog Defined the Bow Valley SPCA

Fri, 1 Jun 2018

In 2007, a park ranger discovered a shepherd-type dog wandering near the highway in Kananaskis Country. He was lame, matted, and extremely skinny but responded immediately when the ranger called, albeit slowly because of his limp.

The ranger brought him to the Bow Valley SPCA where he eagerly greeted staff, but was obviously in a lot of pain. He could not put any weight on his back leg and he whined when it was touched. Still, nothing but tail wags for the staff; and he was very hungry. We named him Blake. After a quick meal, we took him to the local veterinarian for a diagnosis.

It turned out that Blake was about one year old, had probably been wandering for about a month with no food, and had a severely broken hip joint. He was most likely struck by a car after being abandoned in the park.

Our veterinarian presented two options to the board of directors. He could amputate Blake's leg for about $200 or we could spend $5,000 to have his hip repaired by a specialist.

The Bow Valley SPCA was less than one year old at the time and we had no contingencies for exceptional veterinary costs. We had established our organization as a no kill, and no cage adoption center, but until this “moment of truth” we had not considered all of the implications of those promises. The arrival of Blake made us seriously consider the meaning of our values.

The choice was between saving money - with the result being a one-year old, three-legged dog - versus spending money we did not have - with the result being a young healthy, four-legged dog.

We decided that quality of life was more important than saving money and that we would find a way to manage costs. This choice has informed all of our subsequent decisions regarding the health and wellness of our animals.


We believe in changing lives for the better. We strive to make a difference, both in the lives of the dogs and cats and in the people who care for them. In short: We treat the dogs and cats with love and compassion, knowing they will give it back to the families who adopt them.



Blake showed us what it really means to be a no cage, no kill shelter.

As it turns out, we made a very wise investment. Blake went on to become a certified avalanche rescue dog. He even served at the Para-Olympics in British Columbia.

Now retired, Blake and his person come to the Bow Valley SPCA on a regular basis to work with the dogs who need a calm canine friend.

Blake has taught us what is means to "Pay it forward”.