A public group on Facebook for the past six years has garnered around 700 members and has had numerous posts with successful outcomes.
A Helping Hand was started by Jenna Nahnybida to facilitate helping persons who have found lost animals to connect with the owners and have the pets returned home as quickly as possible.
When a person in the community and surrounding area spots or picks up a lost animal they can immediately post the information on the Internet on Facebook. Nahnybida monitors the page, and all the posts, and the posts are then shared amongst the members of the group, who then continue to share with their friends on Facebook.
“The system works well, and has been successful,” Nahnybida said recently. “I control the posts to the page, and with the number of members we have, it usually takes no more than a few hours before the lost pet is returned home.
“A Helping Hand is now linked with the Town of Kamsack,” said Nahnybida. “We recently entered into a partnership to locate and advertise missing pets in the Kamsack area. The town will post the information to my page.”
Although the majority of animals are returned home quickly, Nahnybida recounts an instance where a stray animal wandered the streets of Kamsack for two years, before being taken in, nurtured and finally adopted to a loving home.
“This dog was so frightened to be around people that no one could get close to him,” she recalled. “I and others would leave food out for him, and sightings were always shared on the Facebook page, but he continued to elude capture. One evening I and a friend were out for a walk and we spotted the dog. I literally pounced on him, and he immediately calmed right down.”
Nahnybida took the dog home, and he began to thrive, but because she already had three dogs, the call went out to find “Jack” a new “furever” home.
“He was adopted and he is now the happiest, most well-behaved pet.”
In another instance, Nahnybida spent weeks trying to capture a female dog who had obviously just given birth to a litter. When the dog finally allowed Nahnybida to approach her, she was saved, vetted and rehomed outside of the community. “It’s another success story,” she said.
“The challenge arises during the cold winter months when stray animals are spotted. The biggest worry is the cold. When I get an alert that there is a stray animal in the cold, I will set out food, and try to coax the animal into shelter. So far I have had a 100 percent rescue rate.”
Nahnybida also works closely with Paws and Claws in Yorkton, an animal rescue organization that has funding for vetting and fostering animals.
“If the case is serious, I will contact the Yorkton organization,” she said. “Animals with more extensive needs are sent to Yorkton and cared for through their system. They have more than 1000 members on their Facebook page and have funding available for vet and food costs. Once an animal is referred to the rescue, it is vetted and placed in foster care. I also look for foster homes on my page, but for animals that don’t require expensive care.
“The Yorkton organization charges adoption fess, and these fees are directed toward the cost of providing for animals with greater needs such as issues which require the attention of a vet.”
A Helping Hand will accept donations of pet-related products such as food and necessities, including collars, leashes and other pet supplies, but for the most part, Nahnybida operates the organization for the reward of being able to watch the stray animals “bloom” when they are given some love and attention.
“If people have animal related products to donate, these are gladly accepted and are sent with animals who are placed in foster care,” she said.
Debbie Cuervo of Kamsack is a volunteer with Paws and Claws and is an animal foster who usually takes in mother dogs with puppies. “She will co-ordinate with the Yorkton organization to find homes for the animals,” Nahnybida said.
Both Cuervo and Paws and Claws also accept donations of pet care products to be able to continue foster and rescue efforts.
Although she has always had a love for animals since she can remember, Nahnybida is an EA (education assistant) at Victoria School, married to Zach, an apprentice plumber with P & J Plumbing in Kamsack, and mom of two sons, Brantley, age four, and Weston, turning two in April.
“We have three female dogs, Tequila, Jagger and Jersey, a rescue,” she said. “I know I can’t possibly keep all the animals I rescue. They need to go into foster care to be rehomed. But it’s my nature to care for all animals.”
Nahnybida has taken an online animal science course, to assist with her operation of A Helping Hand. “The course is good training to have,” she said. “I may not be a vet, but I do know how to help these animals that end up in my care.” And she says she won’t rule out veterinarian training in the future. “It may happen, but for now, I will do my part to help every stray animal to the best of my ability.”
To find out more about A Helping Hand, or to donate animal care products, visit the Facebook page or contact Nahnybida.