Manitoulin Pet Rescue services extend far beyond rescued strays and helpless abandoned kittens note founders on the organization’s second anniversary

MANITOULIN—September 2015 saw the start-up of Manitoulin Pet Rescue (MPR), an organization that is operated by volunteers, is not-for-profit and works to rescue and rehome dogs and cats. The group was started by Holly Scott and Kathy Jewell of Mindemoya as well as Julie McDermid of Spring Bay and, by all accounts, an amazing job has been done to date as 140 dogs and puppies and 95 cats and kittens have been rescued and homes have been found for all of them.

The Expositor spoke to Ms. McDermid recently to get a better idea of how the organization operates and the steps that are taken for rescue.

“A lot of people think that cat and dog rescues are just for the abandoned or stray animals,” she said, “but our services are far more in depth than that. We are here for the families that have marriage breakdowns that leave behind perhaps one or several animals that have no place to go, for seniors who are selling their homes and moving into an apartment or perhaps a long term care facility who must sometimes also give up a loved animal because it is not a pet friendly place and also for when a pet owner dies and there is no one able to give the pet or pets a home. We also take in dogs from families that are having behaviour issues with their pet and have finally decided that surrendering them is their only option.”

Ms. McDermid also spoke of the dedication of the MPR volunteers saying, “our base is slowly growing and as well, we are seeing more foster families join our rescue. Our fosters are still the lifeline that keeps everything moving, for without them all intake stops immediately. Some of our foster families have very few days or weeks between one foster leaving and the next arriving. We are always truly in awe of these people who are also running very busy lives with jobs and families and yet they still give 100 percent to each of their fosters.”

MPR is also extremely grateful for the services of Nancy Milburn of Little Current. Ms. Milburn started her dog training career in the United Kingdom and has trained dogs and their owners for over 30 years. “Nancy is not only available to us for advice,” Ms. McDermid said, “but she opens her home up as well to foster some of our more difficult intakes. It is all of these kinds of people that volunteer in so many ways that are helping us to grow and strengthen as an Island rescue.”

One area though, that is of particular concern to MPR and most rescues, is the operation of puppy mills and backyard breeders. As Ms. McDermid explained, because profit is chosen over animal welfare, the animals in these operations typically do not receive proper veterinary care. Animals may seem healthy at first but later show issues like congenital eye and hip defects, parasites or even the deadly parvovirus. “These puppies are for sale on Kijiji, or on social media sites like Buy and Sell. When puppy mills and backyard breeders flood the market with animals, they reduce homes available for animals from reputable establishments, shelters and rescue groups. You can help stop the suffering by being a responsible informed consumer. If you do go to a breeder, make sure it is a reputable one. Adopt from a shelter or breed-specific rescue group near you. Typically, 25 percent of the animals in shelters are purebred.”

Ms. Jewell is responsible for the cats and kittens that are rescued with 42 of these animals coming in so far this year. “Our biggest challenge is finding people to foster cats and kittens,” she explained. “Currently, three fosters are doing the bulk of the work and sometimes they need a break. We often get phone calls for feral cats but we cannot take them in as we do not have a place to tame them. We cannot do a neuter, spray and release unless someone is able to provide shelter and food for the feral cat. If people find a tame abandoned cat and we do not have a foster, if they are able to care for the cat themselves until we find a home, that is helpful. Of course, all of our work is dependent upon available funds as we do not receive funding other than donations. People need to know that a female cat can become pregnant while she is still nursing a litter and that the average litter size is five. Many of our cats in the fall are kittens that people could not find a home for when they were little, so they are dropped off at the end of driveways. Responsible pet ownership is the only solution.”

MPR has just released the first MPR 2018 rescue calendar. The generosity of Island businesses in sponsoring a calendar month means that all proceeds go directly back to the animals in need. Also, Ms. Scott, who covers all financial matters for the group, will issue tax receipts for donations.

MPR is holding their second annual rescue dinner on September 30 at the community hall in Spring Bay. The event is hosted by Rick and Dianne Zimmerman, owners of Quintina’s in Spring Bay and Gore Bay.

For more information, or to join the MPR team, call Ms. McDermid at 705-377-4800, Ms. Jewell at 705-377-4744 or team member Molly Denton at 705-521 4084.