Watching his latest rescue bounding after a plastic bone, Wayne Tischer can see that Cadet has come a long way.

When the nine-month old mutt was rescued from a garbage bin inside the Samson Cree reserve, he was extremely thin and could barely stand.

"Often you just drive down the road and there they are," Tischer said. "There's a lot of animals out there that are suffering."

Tischer is president of the Humane Animal Rescue Team, or HART, a non-profit organization that rescues stray, abandoned and unwanted dogs and cats from rural areas and First Nations sites.

The group of volunteers responds to calls for animals in need and performs the often heart-breaking rescues.

"I couldn't have dreamt the situation was that bad," Tischer said. "The tough ones are when we get the litter without the mother because then we are out here with baby bottles."

After rescuing the animals, it is up to volunteers to nurse them back to health. Once they recover, volunteer Geoff Hughes said the hardest part is often teaching them how to be a pet again.

"They usually are afraid of people," he said. "(They) probably haven't had a good experience with people so you have to socialize them."

The organization has 18 dogs ready for a nice home.

For Hughes, there's no question that the organization's work is a matter of life and death.

"Every dog you take you are saving their lives," he said. "These dogs would die for sure. There's no where for them to go. There's no such thing as a warm ditch."

As a non-profit organization, the group is struggling to both pay for the care needed for the animals, as well as find them safe homes.

With 18 dogs looking for homes, HART cannot rescue any more animals.

"Without a foster home we can't bring the dogs in because we basically have no place to put the dog," Tischer said.

For more information on HART and where you can reach them, click here.