Protecting animals is always an issue of importance, and even more so during harder times like the COVID-19 pandemic. Both the Regina Humane Society and the Saskatoon SPCA have continued their mission despite the increased complications created in the current climate.
For most people who have had dealings with either organization, those encounters have either come in the form of surrendering an animal or adopting one. While those are obviously extremely important aspects of what they do, each organization has grown with the times. “The old images of ‘the pound’ have given way to multi-faceted, comprehensive programming and services that support animals and people in the community,” says Bill Thorn, executive director at the Regina Humane Society (RHS). “While the sheltering of pets remains a large part of what the RHS does, just as important are the education, outreach and safety programs that the Society provides.”
Jasmine Hanson, executive director, Saskatoon SPCA echoes Bill’s sentiments. “We also provide local schools, businesses, and community groups with a variety of volunteer, foster care, and education opportunities in a proactive approach to improve quality of life for companion animals in our community in a sustainable manner,” says Hanson.
In addition to their common mission and goals, the RHS and Saskatoon SPCA also share a similar misconception on the part of the public. “The Saskatoon SPCA is an independent organization and does not receive ongoing funding from any level of government that we serve,” says Hanson. The same is true of the RHS. “The Society is also not government owned, as some believe,” says Thorn. “Other than the bylaw enforcement contract with the City of Regina, which is on a cost-recovery basis, the organization is completely funded through donations and some self-generating revenue, such as our Animal Cremation Service.”
Since both organizations rely on fundraising initiatives as well as private and corporate donations to maintain their operations, the pandemic has hit their respective bottom lines pretty hard. “With most of our fundraising events cancelled this year, donations are more important than they have ever been,” says Thorn. There are common challenges faced by both the RHS and Saskatoon SPCA over the past few months. “Not only has COVID-19 forced us to cancel all our upcoming fundraising events that we rely on for income this time of year,” says Hanson. “But a lot of people simply aren’t in the financial position to donate right now—so we have seen our individual donations decrease significantly.”
However, it’s not all bad news as the public has stepped up in more ways than one. “In the first month following the closure, we adopted out 171 animals which is certainly higher than usual,” says Hanson. The pandemic has proven to be the right time to adopt. “If people have been thinking of bringing a pet into their home, it is a great time to adopt when people are home more and can get in some training or simply getting into a routine with a new pet,” says Thorn.
As the province re-opens more services, organizations like the RHS and the Saskatoon SPCA adjust to the new normal. Both organizations have adapted their adoption services to fit with pandemic guidelines and have many options to make donations safely. What is most important to remember is that they are both still operating and helping animals in Saskatchewan’s two biggest centres, and they still need your help to do it.