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The Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS) is a leading animal welfare organization in Alberta built on a foundation of compassion and kindness. Our values are embodied by our hard-working staff, dedicated volunteers, loving foster homes and generous supporters. Our goals are to help homeless animals in communities across Alberta, and to provide community support programs to address the root causes of animal overpopulation and homelessness.

Our vision is A Compassionate World for All Animals.



Compassion is at the core of all our interactions with animals and people. We seek to be open-minded, inclusive and non-judgemental, respecting others in all we do. Compassion forms the foundation of our commitment to public service, meaningful work and our responsibility to help make our communities better places for all to live.


We believe our communities are best served by organizations that work together to make a difference. We believe in cooperation and helping others to achieve a world of kindness for animals and people. We seek to build relationships and networks that help communities address animal welfare.


We are committed to ethical practices, fiscal responsibility and transparency that builds trust in our organization and our people. We strive for and ask for honesty in our work in order to achieve the best possible outcomes.


We learn from every situation and from the people, places and organizations with which we interact. We contribute to knowledge-building in the animal welfare sector. Together we can meet the needs of animals, individuals and communities.


We are committed to strong stewardship of our resources and to leadership in the area of animal welfare. We believe that the world will be a better place when all creatures are treated with kindness and compassion.


Because of Canada’s wide-open spaces and lower human population density, we don’t necessarily see them on our streets like we do in other countries; however, there are thousands of homeless animals in Canada creating a significant demand for the services provided by animal shelters and rescue organizations.

AARCS is here to help these animals by offering a safe haven for stray, abandoned, or homeless animals. We act as a temporary residence, ensuring animals receive appropriate care, medical support, and love while awaiting adoption into forever homes.

Below are just some of the reasons why animals end up in shelters:


Change in circumstances including divorce, death, new baby, financial situation, or moving are some of the most common reasons cited for pet rehoming.


The growing cost of veterinary care makes the choice to spay or neuter pets more challenging, resulting in unwanted litters. The average cost for a large breed spay now exceeds $1,000 and waitlists at veterinary clinics can be months long. The lack of available veterinary resources is partially due to a serious shortage of veterinarians across the country, especially in rural areas — over 840 vacancies in Alberta alone according to a 2022 report by the ABVMA.


Shelters are full and therefore have to turn animals away. As a result, animals are sometimes abandoned in rural areas, join local pet populations and reproduce without control, creating overpopulation problems.


Behaviour issues in pets that owners are not equipped or are unwilling to manage include aggression, separation anxiety, and inappropriate urination for cats.


Unregulated backyard breeding operations are contributing to the problem. These breeders often produce animals without any regard for temperament or health, causing a great deal of heartache, frustration and expense for new owners. Without any return policies, many of these pets end up in shelters.


Lack of pet-friendly, affordable housing has contributed to an increase in re-homing requests citing housing challenges. Vacancy rates in most urban Alberta centres are below 5%. Only about 20% allow pets, and many have size, species, breed or quantity restrictions and require additional rent or deposits. Conversely, Stats Canada indicates that 77% of Canadian households have a pet of some kind and 50% have a cat, dog or both. AARCS is seings all of these trends reflected in our own operations with a 262% increase in dog rehoming requests between 2019 and 2023 (268 in 2019; 971 in 2023). Approximately 44% of AARCS 2023 dog rehoming requests are a result of a change in housing, living or financial circumstances that prevent owners from being able to keep their beloved pets, and about 29% are a result of behaviour challenges they have been unable to manage.

AARCS also plays a vital role in enhancing community well-being by tackling systemic issues like pet overpopulation and by providing community support programs that keep pets in their homes and out of shelters. Our community support programs are designed to maintain the bond between pets and people, reduce the number of animals entering shelters and ensure public safety. Beyond our immediate impact on individual animals, we contribute to the broader societal goal of fostering compassion and empathy towards our fellow creatures, promoting a harmonious coexistence between humans and animals.



AARCS is proud to be a leader in the animal welfare community and a place Albertans can turn to for help. We are a federally registered charity run by a volunteer board of directors and incorporated as a society in the province of Alberta. More than 6,000 animals come through our programs each year. We are here to provide new beginnings for each rescued animal on their journey to forever adoptive homes and provide community support programs aimed at addressing the underlying issues of animal welfare in our province.

Our shelters in Calgary and Edmonton provide temporary housing, allowing us to assess the medical and behavioural needs of each animal. Our Edmonton location also facilitates adoptions on-site for cats and critters. We have an exceptional veterinary medicine program, coordinated through our in-house Veterinary Hospital at our Safe Haven shelter in Calgary. As a partner with the University of Calgary Veterinary Medical School AARCS clinic is a teaching hospital providing practical experience for student veterinarians. Having a full-time team of veterinary staff and a full-service hospital onsite gives us the ability to help homeless animals in dire need of medical attention. Every day, AARCS receives calls about animals in need of help – from injuries to deadly diseases, we strive to ensure each animal receives the medical care they need along with the chance to recover in a loving foster home.


AARCS opened the first-of-its kind Safe Haven and Veterinary Hospital in 2017. This location is designed as a temporary, emergency and quarantine shelter for rescued animals, with an onsite veterinary hospital to help thousands of homeless animals each year. Safe Haven also operates as a shared office space, donation centre and storage facility.

Our Veterinary Hospital is fully staffed with veterinarians, registered animal health technicians and tech assistants.  With two operating suites, a dental suite with dental x-ray, a full-body x-ray machine, and a fully functional laboratory and pharmacy, AARCS can perform almost anything a private practice can perform. This facility is designed and licensed only to help animals in AARCS care and is not open to the public. In 2023, our AARCS Veterinary Hospital performed more than 3,200 surgical procedures in-house, with the majority being spay and neuter surgeries. 

AARCS Safe Haven is located at 5060 74 Ave SE, Calgary AB.


Our North Haven facility in Edmonton opened in 2020 to increase our capacity for intake and housing for newly rescued animals. This location provides temporary, emergency and quarantine housing for homeless animals. It also acts as a donations and adoption centre, as well as shared office space and as a storage facility.

North Haven is open six days per week to facilitate on-site adoptions of cats and critters.

AARCS North Haven and Adoption Centre is located at 8108 Coronet Rd NW, Edmonton AB.

By addressing the root causes of animal homelessness, we can help people and pets in our community to live better. As a member of both Humane Canada (formerly the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies) and the Animal Welfare Coalition of Alberta, AARCS supports professional standards in the animal welfare industry and collaboration between agencies so that together, we can elevate the status of animals in Alberta.

As a registered non-profit, donations are tax-deductible. We are not government-funded and rely on the public’s generosity to continue to do this vital work. From 2021-2023, we were assessed by Charity Intelligence and received the honoured Top 100 Charities in Canada!

You too can help by partnering with us in our life-saving work. Check out our Get Involved page or make a donation today!

AARCS is supported by more than 3,000 compassionate volunteers and foster families across Alberta, ranging from young children to seniors – all animal lovers looking to make a difference. We pride ourselves as a place where everyone is welcome; where individuals, families, businesses and communities can come together to support a cause that is important to them. From shelter caregivers to foster families to transport drivers to event support, there is a way for every animal lover to be involved. AARCS and all of the incredible people who make up the organization are making a difference every day in the lives of homeless animals.

Our History

The Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society began in 2006 as a small but mighty team of volunteers and foster homes. A school teacher who worked in a remote community noticed a large number of strays, and was handed a puppy one day and asked to find it a new home. Noticing the lack of animal services in remote communities, AARCS was established, helping 52 dogs in the first year of operations strictly through volunteers and foster homes.

In 2012, AARCS opened our first shelter in Northeast Calgary, designed to provide temporary housing, emergency shelter and quarantine for newly rescued animals. With a physical space, support for the organization grew, and within a few short years, we quickly outgrew the space.

In 2017 we moved into a new (to us) facility in southeast Calgary, dubbed AARCS Safe Haven & Veterinary Hospital. We outfitted a brand new onsite veterinary hospital, which allowed us to bring all veterinary care in-house, reducing costs, providing better care and improving program efficiencies. We still rely on foster homes to care for our animals, but these facilities have provided a space to provide much-needed care and emergency intake. Safe Haven is also our head office and donation centre.

Our work spans the entire province of Alberta; therefore, in 2020, we expanded our operations to include an additional facility in Edmonton, Alberta. This facility, named North Haven and AARCS Adoption Centre, handles both intake and housing for newly rescued animals, as well as an onsite adoption facility with 45 adoption spaces for cats and small animals. With teams working to rescue animals in remote northern communities, this facility is vital to ensuring temporary housing for animals, and it has allowed us to further grow our programming.

We strongly believe a foster home is the optimal setting for housing rescue animals, especially for dogs, as opposed to a traditional shelter setting. Despite our best efforts to create a comfortable atmosphere, shelter environments can be scary. By using foster homes, we can care for our animals in a home setting, allowing us to familiarize ourselves with their personalities and needs. This enables us to form a deeper understanding of each animal and facilitate a more accurate match with the ideal adoptive home. The foster home environment not only reduces stress for the animals but also enables us to care for a greater number of animals than a shelter could accommodate.

Strategic Directions

A strategic plan is essential for us to provide direction, optimize resources and ensure long-term success in fulfilling our mission of caring for animals and serving our communities. AARCS’ current strategic plan is for the years 2023 – 2028. The top priorities include:


1: New facilities to meet needs for improved service

2: Strengthen Relationships and Partnerships

3: Diversify revenue to meet expanding needs and increase financial sustainability


1: Continue to expand and develop our programming to improve the quality of life and care of animals, staff and volunteers

2: Ensure and expand veterinary capacity to serve more animals and pet owners

3: Improve communication with stakeholders to increase organizational profile and financial sustainability

Our Team


The AARCS Board of Directors is a group of elected volunteers responsible for overseeing the organization’s activities and ensuring its mission is carried out effectively. The board plays a crucial role in governance, strategic planning, and financial oversight.

Lisa Makinson | President Brieanna Bridgeman | Director
Brian Churchman | Vice President Vanessa Salopek | Director
Alison Steeves | Treasurer Marita Zouraviloff | Director
Karin King | Secretary Jonathan Robins | Director


The AARCS team stands out with its remarkable make-up of diverse individuals, all with a passion for helping animals. On staff, we have an array of professionals, including a full team of veterinary professionals, accounting, animal behaviour, fundraising and communications, administration, human resources, and animal care and adoption professionals. Taking care of our people is our top priority so they can take care of the animals. Working in animal welfare is not easy, but the staff are committed to making a difference in the lives of each and every animal, and providing the best service to our human clients. To see available career opportunities at AARCS, check out our Careers page

AARCS Veterinary Hospital


Coming soon!


Our team of staff is supported by a large volunteer base of over 3,000 dedicated individuals and families across the province. The commitment of our volutneers, foster parents and an extensive network of supporters has been instrumental in our success, providing support in all areas of operation: animal care, adoptions, administration, events and fundraising, as well as all aspects of shelter management. If you’re interested in getting involved with this incredible crew, check out our Volunteer Opportunities!


You can become a member of AARCS and help guide our mission of Changing Lives Through Kindness. A membership with AARCS includes a tax-deductible receipt for the cost of the membership and voting privileges at the Society’s Annual General Meeting, allowing you to actively participate and have your voice heard.


At AARCS, we are dedicated to honouring Indigenous history and culture. We are committed to working together with First Nations communities in the spirit of friendship to cultivate authentic and respectful, reciprocal relationships.

AARCS Safe Haven and Veterinary Hospital is located on the traditional territories of the Niitsítapi (Blackfoot Confederacy) and the peoples of Treaty 7 region of Southern Alberta, which includes the Siksiká, Piikáni, Kainai, Tsúūt’ínà and Stoney Nakoda First Nation. Calgary is also home to Métis Nation of Alberta Region III.

AARCS North Haven is located on Treaty 6 territory, a traditional gathering place, travelling route and home for many Indigenous Peoples, including the Nehiyaw (Cree), Denesuliné (Dene), Nakota Sioux (Stoney), Anishinaabe (Saulteaux) and Niitsítapi (Blackfoot).

We are grateful for the stewardship over the land and waterways by all the many First Nations,  Métis, and Inuit whose footsteps have marked these lands for centuries.