Chewy, a one-year-old dog rescued from the streets of La Ronge, recovering from surgery. Photo supplied by Western College of Veterinary Medicine.

A resident of La Ronge is determined to see a starving dog she rescued from the streets of the northern town eventually become a therapy dog, even though she still has some money to raise to cover a $5,000 vet bill.

Chantel Ursu, 25, has lived in La Ronge for a year and has been rescuing dogs since she was 16.

She says she spotted the emaciated dog last Saturday in La Ronge’s downtown area “looking very distraught.”

Initially, she took “Chewy” into her home but realized within a couple of days the dog had major health issues.

Ursu then took him to a vet clinic in Prince Albert, which found a major bowel obstruction from gravel and ground up garbage in his intestines.

Chewy was sent to Saskatoon’s Western College of Veterinary Medicine for emergency surgery that lasted between seven to eight hours on Thursday.

The surgery lasted as long as it did because the surgeons found intestines that were looped and knotted up inside of the dog, an abscess in his stomach that had burst and another issue that was cutting off circulation to his legs. As well, Chewy needed a blood transfusion and may require another one — and they had to castrate him.

Chewy was still in critical condition at last word, but she says his prognosis for a healthy life is good.

“They really think if he pulls through this entire thing, he’s going to have a good quality of life,” Ursu says. “And that’s enough for me to know that we need to do this.”

Chewy in the care of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. Photo supplied by college.

Ursu says the college has capped the bill at around $5,000, but it’s due on Monday.

She had raised $3,255 as of late Friday afternoon and is hoping to see enough come in over the weekend to cover the bill.

Ursu says donations have come from “some amazing people in my life”, including friends, co-workers, health region board members, anonymous donors and businesses.

“I just knew that I needed to do this,” she says. “I’ve worked with dogs for many, many years. I don’t humanize animals. I can let dogs go when I know it’s their time. But Chewy is young and I know he’s going to have a great life after this, so that’s kind of why I chose to do this.”

She says she plans to train the one-year-old dog to be a therapy dog to work with long-term care patients in La Ronge.

“I’m going to get him trained as a therapy dog and he will live the rest of his life making other people happy,” she says. “And I think he’s got a big purpose in his life.”

Ursu says she can’t stress enough how important it is for people to spay or neuter their dogs, and to determine if they can afford to spay or neuter a dog before they get one.

She also urges northern residents to take advantage of programs where vets visit remote communities and to contact Northern Animal Rescue if they see an animal in distress.

Still, she can’t help but wonder who abandoned Chewy.

“The thing with Chewy is someone in this community knows where that dog came from,” she says. “That dog is a year old. Someone has owned that dog, and whoever that is should have to reap what they sow. They should have to pay that vet bill because whoever owned him caused this. And he was starving to death out on the street eating garbage and gravel for what looks like to be almost his entire life. I have never seen a dog that emaciated, and I’ve seen a lot of animals.”

Anyone interested in helping cover the cost of Chewy’s surgery can make a payment over the phone by calling the vet college directly at (306) 966-7126 and mentioning file number 207846.

Ursu says people can also send her an e-transfer at, which she will forward directly to the college.

She also says they can drop off cash donations with her at her workplace by asking for her at the front reception at the La Ronge Health Centre.

Donors can also call Ursu directly at (306) 980-7920 to make other arrangements.