Manitoulin Transport assisting wild animal shelters in Ontario, donating food deliveries

Employees of Manitoulin Transport in Ottawa presented a cheque in the amount of $2,500 to representatives of the Ottawa Valley Bird Centre to support the centre’s ongoing lifesaving work for wild birds. Employees of Manitoulin Transport are shown helping deliver needed food and supplies to Ontario Wildlife Rescue centres.

ONTARIO—Manitoulin Transport is saving the lives of wild animals through their generous support of Ontario Wildlife Rescue (OWR). The transport giant has made a significant difference in the number of injured and orphaned wild animals saved, says Sandy Donald, director of OWR.

“Almost all of the wildlife rescue centres in Ontario are run on a shoestring, and by volunteers,” Mr. Donald says. “What Manitoulin Transport has done has been like a night and day difference for many of the rescue centres.”

OWR centres receive support from some companies that provide stale dated food for the animals  rather than send that food to a landfill. Since January of this year, Manitoulin Transport has been delivering, free of charge, numerous skids of dog food, disinfectant and other supplies to wildlife rescue centres across Ontario.

These centres take in orphaned wild animals and rehabilitate and release them back into the wild. Although they are licensed by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), most wildlife rescue centres are run by volunteers. They do not receive financial support from government and are dependent on donations and fundraising.

Food is one of their biggest expenses. Several pet food companies donate expired, damaged or discontinued dry dog food. Getting the food to wildlife rescue centres across the province has been expensive and at times impractical. Manitoulin Transport has so far delivered 51 skids, or 25 tons, of food and cleaning supplies to nine centres in Ontario, including sites in Barrie, Peterborough, Ottawa, Thunder Bay, Pembroke, London, Cambridge, St. Catharines and Huntsville.

“Ontario Wildlife Rescue is doing great work,” says Jeff Smith, vice-chair at Manitoulin Group of Companies. “Their volunteers put their heart and soul into helping wild animals and we wanted to do our part and get involved. Manitoulin Transport is proud to support such an important cause.”

The regional centres can’t afford to have the donated food delivered, Mr. Donald said. “When we approached Jeff Smith about possibly helping out, he said we’re (Manitoulin Transport) already helping Turtle Pond Wildlife Centre in Sudbury. We asked if they can do other wildlife rescue centres in the province, and he said ‘sure’, right off the bat. If it will help animals, yes.”

Manitoulin Transport delivers the food to local terminals free of charge. “It’s fascinating, when we phone in all the goods through the regular system,” Mr. Donald says. “At one point, one of the terminals asked what the rescue centres were using Manitoulin Transport for and when we explained, they were absolutely ecstatic. We’ve had drivers go out of their way. It usually goes into the terminal and we will pick it up that day. Once, a centre in Pembroke had 10 skids to pick up and the driver said they’d take it to the centre directly, free of charge.”

A wild bird centre in Ottawa was receiving skids of disinfectant and paper towels (everything has to be sprayed down due to the potential of Avian bird flu). The Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre gave a big shout out to Manitoulin Transport on Facebook: “Not only did they ship essential supplies free of charge to us from Ontario Wildlife Rescue, Tyler (Bégin, terminal manager) and his team from the Ottawa depot presented us with a cheque for $2,500 to support our lifesaving work for wild birds.”

“The group is absolutely amazing, and what all of this has done is allowed the wildlife centres to bring in more animals,” Mr. Donald said.

OWR had estimated a budget of $25,000 to Manitoulin Transport but reached that limit halfway through baby season. Baby season, when wild animals are reproducing, generally occurs from March through September. The rescues take no holidays or days off during that time in order to provide constant care to the animals. “Smaller centres are basically paying all the expenses out of their own pocket,” Mr. Donald says. “We went back to Mr.  Smith cautiously and said we ran out. He asked how much more we needed.”

Mr. Smith said “no problem” to the additional $20,000.

Bears eat a tremendous amount of food during August and September, preparing for hibernation. With more than 105 black bear cubs at rescue centres this year, that’s a lot of bears eating dry dog food. Manitoulin Transport helped by delivering skids of food to a bear rescue in Nipigon and 15 skids of disinfectant from Wal-Mart for birds. Proctor and Gamble donated skids of cleaning supplies. “The centres would be having to spend a small fortune on delivery,” Mr. Donald says. “Their actions have saved us thousands of dollars.”

Rescues are saving a small fortune and Manitoulin Transport is saving animals, he added. “They didn’t bat an eye when we made our requests. I wish more heads of other companies would do this as well. Manitoulin Transport is huge, with over 100 terminals in Canada and the United States. To me, it’s most remarkable when staff funds help out wildlife. They love it and will go the extra mile for us.”

“We understand that at all Manitoulin Transport terminals, they are mandated to give ‘X’ amount of dollars away in donations to things like sports teams, etc. in the community,” Mr. Donald says. Their drivers are going the extra mile by delivering direct to the centres and helping to stock the food, even though they don’t have to. “None of this is normal, and may get other companies to step up as well. We receive no support from the government at all and rely completely on public support, like from this company.”

“There is absolutely no doubt that Manitoulin Transport has made a significant difference for wildlife rescue centres. They didn’t ask for publicity on this but they certainly deserve it,” he says. “More companies should do the same.”