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Community Matters

Getting Kids Involved in the SPCA

June 26th, 2013

By: Nathaniel Crossley

The Fort McMurray SPCA provides an animal shelter for over 1,000 domesticated abused, homeless, and abandoned cats and dogs annually within the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. SPCA stands for Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

I recently interviewed both Jennifer Neville and Tara Clarke from the SPCA to find out more about the organization and how kids can become involved. Jennifer is a volunteer Events Coordinator and Tara is the executive director of the SPCA. She oversees operations of the organizations services, programs and resources provided to the Wood Buffalo community, to ensure sustainability and best practice in animal care, shelter services, education and outreach. Working collaboratively with media outlets and formats, government, other animal welfare agencies and the public in an all-out effort to provide care, a safe haven and a second chance for more than 1,000 homeless, abused and abandoned domestic animals annually in the Wood Buffalo region.

What are the types of volunteers are there and what do they do?
There are two different volunteer categories: the Shelter Volunteers and the Event Volunteers. The shelter volunteers take care of walking the dogs, grooming and caring for the animals, fostering the animals, and doing some general shelter maintenance. The Event Volunteers take care of things like event set up and tear down, and ticket taking. (Note: If you want to volunteer with the events, you must be 18 years of age or older and/or accompanied by an adult at all times.)

How can kids get involved in the FMSPCA?
Kids can get involved (with a parent or guardian supervision) by volunteering, raising awareness, fundraising and participation in FMSPCA events. Specific tasks and opportunities include dog walking, cat grooming, puppy socialization and participation in the new  education program ASAP (Animal Safety and Awareness Program) and become Junior Animal Ambassadors. Additionally kids can host fundraising events such as a penny collection in support of the Isabella Paws fund for abused and neglected animals, bottle drives as part of the Containers for Critters program, lemonade stands or collection of needed care items such as treats and toys. Fundraising information and a needs list is available on the website Participation in events such as Paws in the Park and FMSPCA Adoption Days, and the annual Bike Auction and BBQ is also a great way for kids to get involved. The FMSPCA hosts Adoption Days at the shelter location in the summer months, the purpose of these events is to further promote and feature the animals in our care and the organizations adoption and foster programs. This event also educates the public about the services the FMSPCA provides and welcomes the community to the facility to have a look around and interact with the staff and animals. Paws in the Park is an annual Family Fun Day in support of the safe and caring services the SPCA provides to abandoned, abused and homeless animals as well as the educational services to the community. With the dramatic growth our region has experienced, the SPCA looks forward to hosting this popular pawsitive day for every member of the family and raise funds to provide programming and services for the over 1000 animals they shelter each year. 2013 marks the organization’s 35th year of providing services to our region and the SPCA is excited about their plans to celebrate this milestone and move forward the agency’s vision for a safe and caring community through education, programming and services.

Are there other ways kids can get involved with the FMSPCA?
You can also get involved with the FMSPCA by holding a FMSPCA themed birthday party! Find the FMSPCA location or download or order special kits and activities to help you host an animal themed party at home. Animals don't have a voice to let people know when they are in pain, sad, frustrated or scared. If you'd like to be a voice for animals, start gathering some friends together to talk about forming a club. Speak for those who cannot speak for themselves -- the animals! By standing up and speaking out against the mistreatment of animals you can send a powerful message to people in your community. Learn more about kids who have taken action and get inspired!

Nathaniel Crossley is a grade 6 student at Sister Mary Phillips school who is very active in community. In addition to actively volunteering in the community, Nathaniel enjoys rock climbing, swimming and curling. In 20011, Ultra-marathon runner Ray Zahab (founder of Impossible2Possible) named Nathaniel an i2p Inspirational Ambassador for his project Bono I got your Back. In 2012 Nathaniel was named one of the Top 40 under 40 by the Fort McMurray Connect and has since been awarded the X-ceptional Kidz award from the Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal from the Governor General of Canada.

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