AARCS’ first annual “Jail and Bail”, locking up Calgary celebs and VIPs in dog kennels, was roaring success

AARCS KaityBrown 05Where can you find three Calgary Flames athletes, pageant winner Mrs. Calgary, a UFC fighter, a teacher and several veterinarians locked up in cages?  At the first Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS) Jail and Bail, where ordinary people become jailbirds to raise money to save lives of animals in Alberta.

Katie Ayres, event organizer and operations manager for AARCS, says she didn’t expect so many people would want to get locked up in dog kennels.

“We had so much interest in it from our volunteers and supporters in general,” says Ayres.

Despite celebrity appearances, the star of the show was Nero the dog, a burn-victim who lost both ears in what is suspected to be intentional animal abuse.

 Nero’s life was saved because of the Save Haven AARCS location in Calgary.  He was first admitted to AARCS when he was an eight-week-old pup. Ayres took care of Nero in the beginning until they could find him a home.

AARCS KaityBrown 08Nero, the burn survivor and hero, made an appearance to AARCS with his new foster family, after he was first admitted to the facility under the care of event organizer Katie Ayres.

Photo by Kaity Brown

The now fully-grown dog and his foster family made an appearance at the Jail and Bail and Nero was one of the dogs that got locked up.

Deanna Thompson, executive director of AARCS, says Nero has won the hearts of many, not just in Calgary, but across the world.

“We’ve had letters, from as far as England, regarding Nero. His foster family brought him out today. He looks amazing and he has grown a ton as well.”

Despite his injury, Nero plays hard and loves much just like any other dog. His story was a testament of the work that AARCS does and why they do it.

“For the most part, the vast majority of our expenses go towards vet bills. We take in a lot of animals that have medical issues and needs,” says Ayres.

The event had a fundraising goal of $40,000 and exceeded it by $12,000.

Around 60 volunteers, taking shifts throughout the day, made the eight hour long event run smoothly on Saturday Sept.  20. The Safe Haven shelter facility was packed with people, featuring a number of booths that were supporters and partners of the event.

Visitors also got to walk dogs and hold kittens and bunnies; some pets were even adopted at the event.

Celebrity Jailbirds

  • Lorraine Seth with hero Nero
  • Margot McLean
  • Meghan McLean with three-legged dogs Dylan and Jeannie
  • Ariana Lanz and Humphrey the dog
  • Mel Warman and Finn the dog
  • Janice Greenwood and Lindy the dog
  • Tobey Daniels and MAC the dog
  • Kelsey Knock and foster dog Winston
  • UFC fighter Nick “The Promise” Ring with Pepper the dog
  • Brian and Michelle McGrattan, Calgary Flames
  • Matt and Katie Stajan, Calgary Flames
  • Sven Baertschi and Laura Calvert, Calgary Flames
  • Mrs. Calgary 2014 Sharon Dacon and foster dog
  • Kayla Hendricks and her “foster fail”, a pet that was meant to be a temporary foster but who became a permanent pet, Hrudey
  • Jay Jokisch
  • Shannon Mann

There are 200 dogs and 300 cats in care at AARCS. Typically, says Ayres, each pet is only at the facility for around a week because they come to the facility only to be treated for medical wounds. Afterwards they are placed in foster homes throughout Calgary.

Crowds swarmed the dog kennels where friends, families and some celebrities were all smiles,
probably because they weren’t actually doing time, but instead snuggling puppies and playing with dogs until they reached their bail, their fundraising goals, or until their shift was up. 

Calgarians showed they care about their animals and proved that for every ugly story of animal abuse, there are always several more of charity and overcoming.


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