Animal rescue coalition unites groups operating for common cause

MANITOULIN—Late last month, a group of like-minded individuals representing a cross-section of animal interest groups on Manitoulin Island met for the first time to discuss the coming together and pooling of ideas and resources and to set goals for the first-of-its-kind committee.

Holly Scott, representing Scott Veterinary Services in Mindemoya, explained that the committee, which is currently going under the title Manitoulin Pets Needing Homes (the same name as the successful Facebook site), came about partly due to the Ramona Ense situation—the M’Chigeeng woman who was denied the adoption of a dog by Pet Save because she was from the M’Chigeeng First Nation, which is considered a ‘high risk community’ by the organization due to the return rate of adoptions as well as, according to Pet Save, a poor “standard of care.”

Many rescued cats and dogs end up in Sudbury facilities, such as Pet Save, the SPCA, Rainbow District Animal Control or Small Things, which makes it harder for Islanders to rescue Island pets. The Manitoulin Pets Needing Homes Facebook page has done a good job of linking Manitoulin pets with homes, but more can be done, she said.

The first meeting of the group focussed on what resources are available and what needs there are on Manitoulin.

Ms. Scott noted Island organizations such as Pet Save Manitoulin (which is an independent organization from Pet Save Sudbury), Fixing our Felines based out of Manitowaning, Island pet foster homes, the Island Animal Hospital and Scott Veterinary Services and the Central Animal Welfare Fund (which helps pay the veterinary bills for sick and injured stray animals).

“None of these organizations are working as a unit,” Ms. Scott said.

The group has the goal of, perhaps, one day having a central housing facility for stray or abandoned animals.

“We are all in agreement that not every pet can be saved,” she explained. “We will set guidelines about what can be managed and what animals can be saved.”

As one of its first tasks, the group is contacting each municipality and First Nation to find out who their animal control officer is. Some municipalities, such as the Northeast Town, acquire the contract services of off-Island officers, in their case Rainbow District Animal Control. A list will then by created and for those using off-Island services, the group plans to encourage the municipality to look for a local option.

The group noted the rescue operations in Wikwemikong and M’Chigeeng, which has brought stray dogs to Sudbury, and that, while a noble cause, it would seem that these outside organizations do not realize there are Island groups that could have been consulted first and helped with any undertaking. It is these same groups that then place stipulations on members of the communities wanting to adopt a dog into a good home and it is this they hope to change, giving local people a local option.

Manitoulin Pets Needing Homes is also looking to adopt a business model that is self-sustaining, not unlike Pet Save Manitoulin, Ms. Scott said.

The group also plans to define what a foster home is: how long a stay is and what, if any, financial commitments are involved. Not having a clear definition deters people from potentially fostering pets, the group decided.

Ms. Scott said the group wants to maintain autonomy of the various organizations but still work together.

The next meeting of Manitoulin Pets Needing Homes is scheduled for March 21 at Scott Veterinary Services but to confirm, please check the Facebook page or call Ms. Scott at 705-377-4818.