Arctic Paws says it will no longer host bingo nights after a mix-up on Saturday led to threats being made against Inuvik’s lottery officer and others.
A Saturday bingo to help the non-profit fund a spay-neuter clinic in April took a turn when a misunderstanding about a number become heated.
Angela McInnes, chair of Arctic Paws, said she was unable to speak with Cabin Radio directly but instead addressed the situation in a Facebook post.
“I was at my son’s birthday when the calls and messages began about the bingo,” she wrote. “We investigated. I took information from everyone who worked the bingo and the organizer, plus statements from people who watched on TV and went to the dome.
The post continued: “N36 was seen in the chute as the next number to come up for calling and was assumed by the audience as such and they dabbed their cards. The number was not called nor was it placed on the bingo board.
“This created confusion and then anger in the audience. It was not called, though, and would not count toward the numbers required to make jackpot when the card serial number is entered into the bingo verification computer, because it was not on the table.”
The situation escalated from there, McInnes stated.
“People called, people came to the dome demanding refunds and threatening the safety and lives of the volunteers and workers,” she wrote on Facebook.
“The harassment continued into the evening and extended to the town lottery officer in her own home.”
Refunds worth $500 were given out, even though refunds are not standard practice, as volunteers faced pressure from angry participants.
McInnes said the numbers called, winnings, and earnings from the night have been “double-reviewed” and submitted to the town.
In a public notice on Monday, the town said it was “made aware of a situation that occurred” and was looking into the situation, but would not comment further.
“It is not the town’s responsibility to provide refunds,” the notice read.
Community comes to defence
Founded in 2012, Arctic Paws hosts subsidized spay-neuter clinics across the Beaufort Delta. Each clinic sterilizes 35 to 45 animals, according to McInnes, and costs around $21,000 to run.
“We charge the minimum cost we can to our clients and cover most of the costs for those who cannot afford it,” her post read. “We fly dogs in and board them for surgeries and to send to the NWT SPCA for adoption and medical care. We pay for medication when the client cannot.
“We answer calls for dogs in vehicle accidents, poisonings, wounds and we sit with you when they die and we listen and cry with you.”
Though bingos have served as its primary fundraising avenue throughout the group’s nine-year existence, Arctic Paws has said it will no longer host such events following Saturday’s incident.
A number of community members rallied behind the charity in response.
“You are a great organization with amazing volunteers, sorry you all had to experience that,” a comment on McInnes’ post read.
“I am forever grateful for Arctic Paws for always providing such great and much-needed vet services to our community,” another resident wrote.
“I hope that, at least, people can learn and grow from this.”
Several residents said they were donating to help the charity recoup the money issued in refunds.
“We do hope that we will find other ways to generate funds for veterinary clinics and that you all still have the opportunity to access those subsidized services,” McInnes said.
“This is after all why Arctic Paws exists.
“I hope that my community remembers that we are all good people, that they are good people, and we are stronger, better when we stand together. We at Arctic Paws wish you continued health and good days ahead.”