On an island where the rabies virus is all but obsolete, a grant from PetSmart Charities of Canada is making sure it stays that way.
Newfoundland is unique in many ways. Its rugged landscape, friendly people and fun-loving culture draws scores of visitors to the island.
One of the advantages of being surrounded by water is that Newfoundland, unlike Labrador and other Canadian provinces and territories, is almost completely rabies-free. Consequently, most cats and dogs in Newfoundland are not vaccinated against the disease.
Until recently, that was why the adoption centre in the St. John’s PetSmart store looked sadly empty. For the safety of associates, shoppers and pets in the store, it’s PetSmart Charities of Canada’s policy is that adoptable animals must be vaccinated for rabies before coming into its stores.
“It’s a policy that’s in place for a good reason, and we all abide by it,” says PetSmart’s district leader for Atlantic Canada, Morley Hodder. “People and their pets travel to and from the island all the time and we must be vigilant in preventing the disease in adoptable pets.”
Thanks to a $5,000 field grant from PetSmart Charities of Canada, all animals that come into the care of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in St. John’s can now be vaccinated against rabies, and as a result, the adoption centre in the local PetSmart stores is empty no more.
The SPCA immediately leveraged the grant to begin a rabies vaccination program specifically for adult cats, since kittens were already being vaccinated. The Society can now keep the adoption centre at PetSmart full so that more and more pets are soon finding their forever homes.
“We found homes for 160 more animals in 2018 than we did in 2017,” says SPCA executive director, Karen Mahoney. “That’s primarily due to the exposure we’re able to give our animals at the PetSmart store in St. John’s. Our shelter is located at the outskirts of town and very few people come here—so giving our pets greater exposure in the store is a win-win for everyone.”
For Morley, the support PetSmart Charities of Canada provides to partners like St. John’s SPCA is just one example of why he has enjoyed working for PetSmart for 21 years.
“I couldn’t even think of another job that would replace this one. When you get to save a life, isn’t that an awesome thing?!”