For the love of dogs – and all kinds of animals

Shannon Costello creates local animal rescue ‘Paws for Serendipity’


Fuelled by a great love for animals of all kinds, a local woman recently launched her own rescue program for dogs.

Shannon Costello says she has been taking in unwanted, or neglected animals for years, and trying to find new homes for them. 

But the costs of preparing the animals for a new life – especially dogs – has been eating into her personal income for so long that she has decided to go public and ask for funding assistance.

“I am starting an animal rescue here in the local community, called Paws for Serendipity,” said Costello, who trained as a vet tech, and currently manages a local hog barn on a full-time basis. “I have been rescuing dogs forever. It has always been funded out of my own pocket, thanks to my job, but in order to help more dogs, I’m looking for support now as well.”

A fundraiser has been organized by Costello’s good friend Tari Conrad, and is set to run this Saturday, March 9, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Conrad’s café, The Grind, 508 Broadway Avenue in Killarney.

“If it even raises $1,000, that would be a big help,” said Costello. “There will be silent auction items, jewellery for sale – I make jewellery too – used books for sale, bakery items for sale, some art, and there is even a door prize of a $100 gift certificate for The Keg.”

Costello reckons she spends around $10,000 to $15,000 of her own cash each year on expenses related to rescuing dogs, which she brings into the home she shares with husband Laurence Riglin, on their hobby farm southeast of town.

There are quite a number of dogs already in the home, but they can always make room for a new one on a temporary basis, she says.

“I rescue a new dog or a pet on average every couple of months,” she said. “Right now I have six rescue dogs at home. They have been vaccinated, neutered or spayed, and de-wormed. I spend $300 to $400 per animal when they first arrive, just for the vet costs. Then there are the feed costs. I might hold a dog for a month, or three to six months, sometimes five years – these ones I usually end up keeping – before I can I find a foster home or have the dog adopted.”

Cats are also taken in for shelter, and at the moment Costello is even housing a homeless guinea pig.

“His name is Cedric,” she said. “He is six months old, and he needs a home too.”

Finding safe homes for the dogs is her priority, she said, usually through fostering families, followed by adoption. 

And a few of the canines need more attention than others.

“They take time,” she said. “Some of them are feral dogs, or they haven’t been treated very well. Sometimes they have been frozen outside. I bring them all into my house, to settle them down, and get them used to people, and other dogs.” 

The dogs come from the local area, and that includes the Swan Lake Reserve, said Costello. Some also come from northern reserves.

But the pressure of rescuing so many dogs is great, she added.

“There’s such a big need for it in Manitoba,” said Costello. “All the pounds and rescues are overburdened in the province. It’s insane. The amount of animals needing to be re-homed, or rescued, is overwhelming in Manitoba alone. Paws for Serendipity’s mission is to provide the town of Killarney and surrounding area with an alternative animal rescue organization. Our vision is to provide all animals with a second chance at a happy, healthy and long life. If I can raise financial support, I can rescue more dogs.”

Costello created Paws two months ago, and has also set up a Facebook page, Paws for Serendipity, which features photos of the animals, and information about the rescue mission.

“I just applied to become a non-profit three weeks ago,” she added. “It takes eight to 12 weeks to be approved.”

She’s also hoping to eventually convert an old garage at her farmstead into a kennel, for sheltering dogs.

So what drives Costello to devote so much time, energy, and money to rescuing so many four-legged creatures?

“The animals mean everything to me,” said Costello. “My love for all animals is what got me started at a very young age. We are committed to creating an environment where the relationship between animals and humankind is guided by compassion, understanding, and patient. That’s why it’s called Paws for Serendipity: serendipity is a chance occurrence of something happy, or beneficial, getting people together with these dogs and other animals.”

If you are interested in supporting Paws for Serendipity, you can donate directly at the Killarney Vet Clinic, into the Paws for Serendipity account, to help cover vet costs.

You can also etransfer via email to:

Donations of items for the upcoming fundraiser at The Grind are also welcome – they can be dropped off at the café in advance of the event.

A HOME FOR CHARLOTTE – Shannon Costello, who recently launched Paws for Serendipity, is pictured here with Charlotte, a four-month-old lab/shepherd pup. Costello had just taken Charlotte to the vet for her vaccinations and treatment, and was now on her way to Stockton, to deliver the shy pup to her temporary foster family. A fundraiser for the animal rescue program runs this Saturday, March 9, at The Grind, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

CEDRIC AT THE SALAD BAR – Also up for adoption through Paws for Serendipity is Cedric, a six-month-old guinea pig with great hair. What’s not to love?!! More photos of furry friends needing homes appear below.