Earlier we blogged about the efforts of many volunteers and rescues to help the dogs stranded in the bush at Mile 26, near Cochrane, Ontario.
Loving foster homes are needed urgently for these dogs as soon as possible, so that the four co-operating rescues can go in and bring out more dogs.
Here is the story of Jean Luc Levesque, who lived at a remote train stop and who, on May 21, 2010, died attempting to save puppies in his care.
The following account is copied from the Moosonee Puppy Rescue website:
A man named Jean Luc Levesque had lived by himself in the bush north of Cochrane for years. When he retired from the Ontario Northland Railroad, he took in dogs no one else wanted. Some dogs were taken to him and some he found himself. He was well known in the area and was known as “the man at train stop number 26”. The only way to reach his property was by train and and since there is only one Polar Bear Express, that meant being dropped off at 9 am and waiting for the train’s return from Moosonee at either 10 pm that night or the following day if it was a stop over.
Over the years, Jean Luc had accumulated close to 200 dogs. In the beginning, he just took females but in the end he somehow had five or six males. The unwanted dogs given to him would not have been spayed or neutered, and he could not have afforded that many procedures himself, not to mention the logistics of transporting that many dogs to and from a vet. His colony of dogs grew.
Several people had complained to the SPCA about the number of dogs he had. Even the best of intentions can get out of hand and that is what was happening at “mile 26”. The Ontario Northland Railroad had reported to the SPCA that, on too many occasions, dogs had been hit by the train as it passed, and other individuals were concerned that adequately managing over 100 dogs was simply too much for one person. The SPCA did not share the concerns of others so, year after year, Jean Luc was left to do the best he could with a growing number of dogs.
On May 21st, Jean Luc died when his cabin caught fire. The train had stopped to offload supplies for him and the conductor saw him running in and out of his cabin while it burned all around him. Authorities were notified and Jean Luc was found just outside his cabin lying face down in the dirt with an armful of puppies. He had tried to save as many litters as possible before they perished inside the cabin. His body was burned badly.
The cabin fire started a bush fire so planes had to fly overhead to drop water bombs in an attempt to to extinguish it. Close to 200 dogs were being terrified by fire and traumatized by planes dropping water bombs on or near them. Even then, the SPCA did nothing.
I heard of Jean Luc’s death and waited to hear what needed to be done. Originally the SPCA said they would go in to the property but, since it was a long weekend, they decided to wait until the following Tuesday to do so. We knew the dogs had separated into two packs – one friendly and one feral. The feral pack was attacking the others now that there was no one to stand in their way. Because the friendly dogs were in mourning, as well as feeling fear they would have shown weakness to the more wild dogs. Bears had been seen coming in as well so many of the dogs were mere prey to them as well.
The train had always meant their master’s return or food being brought in so when they heard it they instinctively ran to greet it. The problem was that it no longer slowed at their stop so when they stood on the tracks as they always had they were hit and killed.
All this was taking place and still the SPCA saw no need to go in immediately. On Tuesday May 25th, a representative of the SPCA and an OPP constable flew over the property to observe the dogs. They determined that all the dogs and all the puppies were feral so there was no reason for a rescue effort. Rescue organizations that had been waiting to help with the dogs were told the matter was now an investigation and that no information would be shared. All the while, the dogs waited.
Moosonee Puppy Rescue, Northern Ontario Animal Welfare Society and two other rescues in the North rescue and care for the Mile 26 dogs. They have taken out, as of July 21, 2010, approximately 60 dogs.
Please go to their Facebook page, (search Mile 26 Dogs) and see photos and video of the dogs as they have been brought down to the rescues. They have been helped tremendously by Ontario Northland Railway.
If you can help by fostering, adopting, contributing funds or food, please get in touch with the rescue group, Northern Ontario Animal Welfare Society.
What can you do to help?
Email: adoptions @noaws.com
Office: 1-519-541-9945 (Lydia – Mile 26 Rescue Contact)
Address: Box 51, Iroquois Falls, ON, P0K 1G0
Facebook – Look up “ Mile 26 dogs”