Pets pay it forward: SPCA donates equipment to NWT’s Covid-19 fight

The NWT’s biggest animal shelter is helping to supply the territory’s fight against Covid-19 by donating boxes of much-needed protective equipment.

More than 500 isolation gowns, 2,000 gloves, and 700 face masks are being delivered from the NWT SPCA to the territory’s health authority on Friday morning.

The equipment has come full circle. It was donated from the old Stanton Territorial Hospital to the animal shelter last year, when that hospital closed.


“They had resupplied the new hospital and had all this extra stuff with nowhere to store it,” explained Dr Michelle Tuma, the SPCA’s vet.

“Now we’re just donating it back. It’s stuff that we use, but not urgent stuff that we need right away.”

The equipment has been stored in a garage behind the shelter since it was donated last year. Everything being sent to the health authority is in its original box, unopened.

Supplies like face masks are in critically short supply as the world’s healthcare systems race to equip staff for the Covid-19 pandemic. More than half a million people worldwide have now been infected with the disease.

Dr Tuma expects some of the supplies to help outfit the NWT’s air ambulance staff, who previously told NNSL their stocks of protective equipment were low.


‘Everyone is giving this their all’

While the NWT currently has only one confirmed case of Covid-19, the territory’s health authority is making all the preparations it can for a potential surge in future, as seen elsewhere.

Masks and gloves are kept by the SPCA for surgical and hygiene purposes. Gowns are worn by people interacting with puppies or pets who need to be kept in isolation.

“We use them, but we don’t need 500 of them right now,” said Tuma.

“If they go through all of the supplies and need more, we still have some more. We still have gloves and stuff for our shelter staff to use.”


Pepper the cat, front, wears a spent face mask from an earlier surgery

Pepper the cat, front, models a spent face mask from an earlier surgery. Photo: NWT SPCA

Protective equipment heads from the NWT SPCA to the territory's health authority

Protective equipment heads from the NWT SPCA to the territory’s health authority. Michelle Tuma/NWT SPCA

Tuma said the shelter was glad to help the health authority after its generosity in the past.

“It feels nice to be able to contribute,” she told Cabin Radio on Thursday evening.

“Everybody is working really hard and giving this their all, so it’s nice to be able to help out in a small way by giving them supplies so they don’t have to be as stressed when these things are in such high demand.”

Rescue dogs are hot commodity

Meanwhile, there are only a dozen dogs residing at the Yellowknife shelter – the lowest number Tuma has seen in her two and a half years working there.

That’s partly because so many animals are being fostered or adopted by individuals or families spending more time at home and seeking companionship during the pandemic.

In full: All the pets available for adoption at the NWT SPCA

“It’s great,” said Tuma. “We still obviously need volunteers coming in to help when they want to if they’re healthy.

“But it’s amazing to have so few dogs in the shelter, because there are so many out in homes right now. It’s so great to see.”