Rob Macmillan with Taz at home in Port Alberni. MIKE YOUDS PHOTO

Couple rescues dog with support from Pacific Seaplanes

Lab has been left with broken leg untreated since June



When it comes to rescuing animals in distress, some angels have wings.

Rob and Peg Macmillan went looking to fill a gap left by their much-loved Pyrenees, which recently died. On their Stirling Drive acreage, the couple has three other dogs—a husky, a German shepherd and a Belgian Malinois.

“We were looking for a larger dog,” Rob explained. “I heard about this guy up in Prince George.”

On an SPCA website, they found Taz, a Labrador retriever, but there was a wrinkle in their plan. Taz had been given up for adoption in Prince Rupert months earlier, apparently because his owners didn’t have the funds to treat his broken leg. The dog was sent to Prince George to be examined by a veterinarian. When Rob tracked him down, Taz had languished there since June, his leg still untreated.

“They said they didn’t want to fix it,” Rob said, making it clear that he did not agree with the decision. “It was a money thing; they operate on a shoestring.”

In order to adopt Taz and have his leg treated, Macmillan had to sign a waiver acknowledging, ironically, that a vet had determined the dog did not require surgery. He didn’t care to dispute the matter and paid $400 for Taz, signing the waiver to expedite what was — as far as he was concerned — an animal rescue.

“You can’t turn your back on something like that,” he said.

There remained the matter of getting Taz to Port Alberni after the dog was transferred to a Vancouver SPCA shelter. With the prospect of a three-sailing ferry wait, Rob opted for a seaplane flight and taxi instead, turning to Nanaimo-based Pacific Seaplanes after learning that Harbour Air won’t carry animals larger than 35 lbs.

Pacific Seaplanes not only agreed to carry Taz—the airline went above and beyond. The pilot and a fellow passenger helped load and unload the dog without a kennel.

Then came an unexpected act of compassion the next day: the airline refunded the $283 fare, considering it a mercy flight.

“She phoned back and said, ‘We’re sending back your money.’ It’s very nice of them.”

Following his surgery at WAVES in Victoria, a specialty small-animal hospital in Victoria, Taz will have to heal for another eight weeks with a cast that must be changed weekly. The surgery alone cost $5,300, but the Macmillans are thankful. Taz seemed happy to discover his new family included three female dogs and still frolics about, despite having his foreleg locked in a cast.

“He gets along with everybody,” Rob said. “He’s good with cats…he’s just a happy camper.”


Taz relaxing with his new family. ROB MACMILLAN PHOTO

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