09/11/2012 05:31 EDT | Updated 11/11/2012 05:12 EST

Sheep Thrills: An Unusual Animal Rescue



Animal rescue is alive and well in Canada. And as a result, today, so is a dear little innocent sheep.

It's the middle of the day -- your telephone rings, you don't recognize the number, but they're calling on the "animal hotline" so you pick up the call... it's Jules. Formally, Julie Kaiss, a Canadian rescuer living abroad, who is on a visit home. She's out with her friend Ariel Lang, another long-time extremely seasoned animal rescuer for an afternoon coffee and a catch up visit.

Now, you really can't make this up. Jules calls to advise they're on Birchmount Avenue, and they've driven by a store that has a sheep tied up out front. A sheep, in the middle of Toronto? Oh can't be good news.

They're not sure what to do. They call the OSPCA, who advised, apparently, that it was "out of their jurisdiction" -- that's the Ontario Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals...Toronto's in Ontario, right? We all thought it was a no-brainer, but apparently not. Thankfully, Toronto Animal Services was rather more forthcoming. They said they'd attend immediately.

Meanwhile, the rescuers are panicking. They know the sheep won't come to any good end. They canvass the neighbours, and sure enough, find out the sheep is being "fattened for slaughter." Never mind that we're in Toronto, we're supposed to be civilized, this is 2012, and certainly, no farm animals should be in the city. The girls are compromised, they only have an international cell phone to work with. We briefly discuss what can be done, legally. They ask me to put a notice out on Facebook to any rescuers in the area who might be available to transport immediately. They ask for recommends for sanctuaries -- who's available? Can you get calls out? You betcha.

More outreach to the marvellous folk at TAS: Does this animal have any rights? What's our legal baseline? What can TAS do? Insiders advise almost immediately, it's "an illegal animal." They confirm someone is dispatched right away.

On the scene, the girls had the presence of mind to make a cash offer for the animal. The owners, upon being read the riot act from TAS, see this as the best way out and they surrender the animal for $150.00. Ariel and Jules pile the sheep into the back of their car and get the hell out of there with the little girl sheep in the backseat before anyone changes their minds.

Two hours later, the rescuers call in. "Babe" is now in Ariel's back yard in Scarborough, eating grass, awaiting transport to Wishing Well Sanctuary. Thank god Wishing Well responded quickly, and had room. Thank god Jules and Ariel had the presence of mind to make a cash offer and save the sheep. And thank god, the owners buckled under the pressure and gave her up.

This is what happens every day, all day, in animal rescue in Ontario, and straight across Canada.

What would you do if you saw a sheep on Birchmount Avenue, tied up outside a store? Would you think it unusual? Would you care enough to inquire or step in? Thankfully these seasoned, caring rescuers knew what to do, and did it.

Another life saved. Well done, Ariel. Well done Jules. Seriously, well done. So grateful to the rescue community for having their eyes open, not to mention their beautiful hearts.