Animal Welfare aids 100+ pet owners in 2013

MANITOULIN—Abandoned, but not unwanted, pets arrive at their new homes sometimes in need of medical attention, often malnourished and ill. But thanks to the efforts of a visionary individual 10 years ago, veterinary bills need not be a barrier to adoption.

The Manitoulin Animal Welfare Fund helps to fund veterinary bills, taking a significant portion of the burden off of the prospective adopter of an abandoned animal, especially to spay or neuter the pet. It also helps lower income people keep their pets when the animal becomes ill.

Administered by the Township of Central Manitoulin, the Manitoulin Animal Welfare Fund is entirely donation driven and although it has teetered close to the brink a few times over the past decade, it has always recovered enough to meet the need.

“It’s certainly doing its job,” said Central Manitoulin CAO Ruth Frawley, who estimated that the fund deals with between 100 and 150 animals each year.

The fund pays one-third of the veterinary bill, the adopter/owner pays one-third and quite often the veterinarians themselves will step up as well. But the fund is not a shelter.

“There are some misconceptions out there,” said Ms. Frawley. “Somehow people got it into their heads to think we take animals. The municipality has an animal control officer who fills that role. This fund is just for sick and injured animals. If someone has had an animal for more than three days, we consider that they have adopted the animal.”

There are some exceptions, if an animal is adopted while too young to spay or neuter, then the fund will consider assisting later when that animal is old enough to undergo the procedure.

Veterinarian Dale Scott recalled the day Alexander (Sandy) McGillivray of Little Current called him up with the idea of establishing the fund. “Sandy came to me and asked how we could make this work,” said Dr. Scott. After some discussion with the municipality of Central Manitoulin, the Manitoulin Animal Welfare Fund was established.

“The fund is basically self-sufficient,” said Dr. Scott, who noted that Mr. McGillivray provided the initial seed money to start the fund, but that it now operates through the kind donations of people all across the Island. “The township looks after the fund, but every dollar that comes into the fund goes toward the placement of cats and dogs.”

In the entire time the fund has been in operation, noted the veterinarian, “we have never had to euthanize an animal that could be adopted.”

Although the administration of the fund is done by the Township of Central Manitoulin the fund is an Island-wide project. “We get donations from all over,” confirmed Ms. Frawley. “We provide a tax receipt for any donation over $10 and we quite often get bequests when someone passes away. When that happens we send a letter acknowledging the gift to the family.”

Dr. Scott noted that the fund is a co-operative effort and located in Central Manitoulin largely because that is where Manitoulin’s two animal hospitals are located. “Mary Yett (The Island Animal Hospital) and I (Scott Veterinary Services) both administer the fund,” he said. “We don’t want the cost of adopting to act as a barrier.”

The Township of Central Manitoulin will accept donations for the fund. “Just make sure that it is marked for the Manitoulin Animal Welfare Fund,” said Ms. Frawley.

Michael Erskine