The Ontario SPCA and Humane Society’s volunteer program was put on hold for the majority of 2020 due to the pandemic, but it didn’t stop volunteers from having an enormous impact on the communities we support.
“The outpouring of support during this unprecedent time was overwhelming,” says Carol May-McQuillan, Director, Volunteer Development, Ontario SPCA and Humane Society.
Foster parents took centre stage in 2020, with over 100 foster families from every area of the province ready to offer their homes to animals needing extra support. Nancy and her husband Andrew were among those volunteers. They adopted Fergus, a Northern dog, from the Ontario SPCA Muskoka Animal Centre in 2018 and decided to pay it forward and become foster parents to five Husky-type puppies.
“Uncle Fergus” took on most of the mentoring. Showing the puppies how to be a dog is a big job, but he was up to the task. “The puppies followed him around, kissed his face, and snuggled up to him at night” Nancy says.
When it came time for the puppies to go to their forever homes, the entire neighbourhood came out for a physically distanced goodbye to see them off.
Portrait for Paws
Volunteers also raised a paw and donated their artistic talents in 2020 to draw pet portraits for our first Portrait for Paws virtual fundraiser. Volunteer artists of all ages created meaningful memories for the pet parents. This inaugural virtual fundraising event was a huge hit with the recipients of these beautiful pieces of art, but also the volunteers who were able to continue to help animals in need from the safety of their homes.
Even though we couldn’t see their smiling faces in person, we wouldn’t miss National Volunteer Week, which was celebrated virtually from April 19-25. Animal centre teams sent thank you messages and support virtually through video messages, cards and called volunteers directly to show appreciation for their efforts. Following Volunteer Canada’s handprint initiative, we also placed paw prints in our windows and encouraged communities to do the same to recognize those caring for animals.
Through monthly updates to the volunteers, we were able to provide mental health tips throughout the year, as well as parenting tips and fun activities to help them and their families get through this. Animal centre team members also personally reached out to senior volunteers and those who lived alone to provide extra support and a friendly voice.
Thank you to our volunteers for standing behind us in 2020! We are all in this together, and together we are changing the lives of animals in need.