Students help out the SPCA

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The UNBSJ Residence Council, a group of students elected to plan social activities for residence students, takes up a new cause every year. This year, the group decided that the Saint John SPCA Animal Rescue would benefit from their fundraising efforts with gifts of blankets, pet food, toys, treats and a monetary donation.

Natalie Pequin, president of the UNBSJ Residence Council, says that the SPCA was chosen because of its recent financial crisis. “The shelter caught our eye because they’re in need of pretty big help,” says Pequin, “with all those other charities out there [receiving] constant donations all year from major companies, we thought it would be a great idea to take on a focus of a smaller, more local charity.”

The city’s only animal shelter was nearly forced to close its doors earlier this year due to a dire financial situation. With the purchase of a new location to house the animals and high operating costs, the shelter employees feared they would have to close their doors for good. Since then, the Saint John community has come together and raised $110,000 of the $200,000 needed to keep them afloat.

Pequin says the students really came together to support this cause. “The items came from our amazing students who either took the time to go out and buy these items from the grocery stores and/or pet stores or bring them from home,” she says. “The money was donated right from the students’ pockets, which was very generous of them and we appreciate it so much!”

The Residence Council plans to continue to assist the shelter in the future. “Every fundraiser we do, event that requires donations and so on will be given to the SPCA for the remainder of the school year,” says Pequin.

Melody McElman, the shelter’s manager, says donations are very important to the shelter, especially in the winter months. “We absolutely need them. Our costs are extremely high, adoptions tend to slow down and we find ourselves with more pets coming in,” she says, “We have a high demand for blankets and food because we know right after Christmas, things get very tough for a lot of folks. It’s very hard in the winter time.”

Because the SPCA Animal Rescue is sponsored by the pet food company, Royal Canin, who supplies food for all of the shelter pets, it is able to run a kibble bank, stocked with donations of food and treats that can be accessed by people who cannot to afford to feed their pets.

The goal is to reduce the number of animals being surrendered to the shelter. “More and more pet owners are trying to surrender their pets because they can’t afford to feed them,” executive director, Kari Poore said in a press release, “we want to help as many owners as we can to keep their pets. We are able to now, in turn, give back to the community that supports us.”

The shelter has also signed up for a program offered by Facebook called “Chip In” that allows it to solicit small donations to pay for expensive surgeries for the shelter pets that would otherwise be euthanized.

The SPCA has a number of fundraisers coming up in the New Year. It is planning a snowball tournament on Jan. 26 at Forest Hills Baseball Field, Cupid for a Cause in February, a Casino Night, Dog Jog and a Golf Ball Drop. The shelter also has calendars of shelter pets for sale for $10 and hand-painted Christmas ornaments for $5.

“It’s been good, it’s still a struggle, I won’t say that [it’s not] because all of the non-profits are hurting and the economy is poor, but the funding is still coming in and we’re getting there” says McElman.

If you would like to donate to the Saint John SPCA, contact them at 506-642-0931. The little fur balls also love getting company, you can visit them directly at 295 Bayside Drive.