Steinbach and Area Animal Rescue President Michelle Neufeld says that 2022 was one of the busiest years that they’ve ever had. 

They rescued 291 animals with 25% from the Steinbach area and 75% from outside of the city. Neufeld says that the “number just increases all the time.”  

They provide services for Steinbach and surrounding communities in Hanover. However, they have stretched as far as Piney and have even received calls from Brandon. 

“People are more aware of us; they're calling from all over the place. We have to kind of be wary of our border, where we taking animals from. It's been a crazy year, really,” Neufeld said. 

When it comes to the costs of animals that are brought in, Neufeld says that it’s been a challenge to figure out a hard number. 

“We've been trying to figure out those numbers, but every animal is so different because they come in with so many different ailments. I would a cat, for instance, the average cost for a cat is between $300 and $500 that we spend on them. For a dog, it varies,” 

Neufeld wants to make the community aware of the conditions animals come with. In wintertime, cats often come in with upper respiratory issues and frostbite. Many animals come in with broken legs and other injured parts, which to Neufeld, is "heartbreaking." This caused their veterinary bills to skyrocket, eventually leading them to an intake freeze in October.

“It was hard, but we had a lot of people step up and donate to us and we are now out of our deficit. We have quite a nice savings account for our building ready to go. It was pretty stressful there for a while because we're trying to take care of all these animals, but yet there's a lot on the sidelines trying to figure out this building,” Neufeld said. 

She is grateful for how the community has stepped up and continues to support them. 

“We have a vehicle that was provided to us by the amazing Funk’s Toyota. They maintain our van. Whatever it needs they provide. It's been a huge help. We have a lot of donations that Pet Valu, the pet stores give us, so it's huge,” said Neufeld. “It's hard for me to even comprehend and talk about because we've had so much support from local businesses.” 

What started as a Facebook page for lost and found animals has turned into an animal rescue with a board of directors and charitable status. They hope to take a step forward by moving into a building in 2023. It would allow them to provide more support for animals and rescue even more.  

“It is overwhelming because this dream of mine started off from around the kitchen table. We are still around the kitchen table because we don't have a building yet, we need a bigger kitchen table,” Neufeld said. 

They are in the process of finding a building. However, Neufeld says that the search takes time. 

“It's not happening as fast as everybody wants it to happen, especially me. We are getting closer and closer every day,” Neufeld said. “We're looking all over the place. If we do find a place then we have to bring that to the city. The city has to approve us because we are within city limits. There's a lot of paperwork behind it,” 

In addition to businesses lending a hand, Neufeld adds that kids have also organized fundraisers for them. 

“There are so many supporters out there. We've seen this year so many little kids that hold lemonade stands for us. We've had that happen so often this year, or little craft sales, making little bracelets. People want this [the building] to happen and it will happen,”  

To support Steinbach and Area Animal Rescue and help the building become a reality, there are different options for donations.  

Chase The Ace will be back on Monday, January 9th at Smitty’s with tickets on sale from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. The pot is currently at $8447.50. Aside from raising money for the organization, Chase the Ace has also allowed them to connect with the community. 

“We see regulars that come in every Monday and we've gotten to know pretty much all the staff. We've pretty much taste-tested all of Smitty's menu, which is awesome,” Neufeld said. 

Their website has the option to sign up for a monthly donation, which can be as little as $3. 

Neufeld says that if you’re interested in welcoming an animal or two in your home, fostering is also an option, adding that it is one of their biggest needs. 

“We have a nice handful of fosters right now, but we can only place a couple of animals in each household. We just really need people to step up and foster.” 

With files from Dave Anthony.