BURIN, NL – Alfreda Grandy, shelter director of the Burin SPCA, was part of the initial team that fundraised and established the building and organization in 1999.
"I saw so many animals out there in need, so many stray and abandoned animals. I felt I could help out.”
Pauline Beazley, Burin SPCA president, joined the organization when she moved back home 16 years ago, after volunteering with the St. John’s SPC for years. Beazley is heartened by the improvements in animal welfare the charity instigated.
Beazley contended: “People’s attitudes toward animals have evolved. We’re not seeing so many outdoor dogs. Many more dogs are now considered part of a family instead of something that lived outside on chain or in a cage. People have become so much more understanding of animals with behavioral issues. They are discovering that any animal can be a great pet with some patience, with training and lots of love and exercise.
"People are more willing to make the effort to turn a pet with needs into a great pet. I’ve made lasting relationships with wonderful people who have taken animals who were waiting so long for the right person to show up and save them.”
Grandy agreed the SPCA's work has generated improvements.
“The number of abandoned animals has dropped considerably," she explained. "The vet gets more visits now, more people care for animals. People are getting them vaccinated.”
Both women agreed one of their main challenges is the need to constantly fundraise while doing all the other work required to run a shelter. Grandy listed their numerous expenses: “We have to pay workers and all the bills, trying to spay and neuter animals as needed, feed the animals, pay vet visits and there are always repairs and maintenance to the buildings and outdoor runs.”
Beazley added: “Constantly trying to find enough money prevents us from doing projects we need to do like deal with the growing problems with strays, abandoned and feral cats and public education.”
According to Grandy, a major setback to the organization’s progression in animal welfare on the Burin Peninsula came in 2012 when the provincial government took away its special investigation authorization and mandated the RCMP to handle. RCMP received no training in animal handling, behavior or how to educate the public. The move also confused people, who no longer knew who to call when witnessing an animal in distress.
"Animals are falling are through the cracks," Grandy lamented. "When conditions weren't tragic enough to warrant charges, we provided follow up care and info. A lot of times education was all that was needed, bringing awareness that dogs not only needed food and water, they needed socialization.”
Grandy and Beazley would like the government to reinstate animal investigative authority to the SPCA, but for now are working with the RCMP to improve animal awareness among its members and communications between both organizations.
The biggest reward of her decades of volunteer work for Grandy is, “When you can adopt an animal out, one that came in sick and undernourished and then get feedback that the animals is thriving, fitting in and loved. You get feedback and they send us pictures, and I know I’ve done something for this animal.”
Both women agreed the public’s support of SPCA fundraisers and initiatives is overwhelming, but what these volunteers said they desperately need is more volunteers. They are seeking dog walkers, cat cuddlers and adults who can donate a few hours a week or month to take on a shift or contribute to their board, to bring new ideas, new resources and new contacts.