A selfie with a black horse with white spot on forhead

OSPCA Volunteer Lea Thompson and Chevy from Canyon Creek Farms hang out together. The Farm has also registered a team for Sweat for Pets. (Submitted photo)

Volunteer shares benefits of helping Ontario SPCA animals

By Patricia Leboeuf

Posted on Thursday September 17, 2020

Persistence and perseverance is the key to Lea Thompson’s volunteering success.

This Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Ontario SPCA) Renfrew County Animal Centre volunteer’s persuasiveness has convinced many a person to open their hearts - and wallets - to the plight of the animals.

Her history with the Ontario SPCA is long.

She started 21 years ago, offering her grooming expertise to the charitable organization. As time went on, she took on more roles until she became as much a resident at the animal centre as the pets themselves. If she isn’t doing work at the front desk, counselling people about pet adoption or trying to raise money, she’s either in the back helping the animals or out in the community promoting the Ontario SPCA.

“I saw the work they were doing for at-risk animals and wanted to help and be a part of that work,” said Thompson.

One of the ways she goes above and beyond is fostering. Over the years, hundreds of animals have recuperated or found their footing in her home. Most have been pregnant or nursing mother cats and kittens.

It has become a passion of hers.

“It takes up a lot of time, but it’s never hard work,” said Thompson. “I just love having kittens born in our house and see them go from tiny, blind, helpless bundles to energetic, crazy, healthy, happy kittens ready to start life with new families. As an adoption counsellor, I have the added benefit of getting to know the families adopting kittens that I have fostered and can give the new family an insight into the kitten’s personality.

“It is very rewarding.”

She admits there have been a few “foster failures”, but her husband keeps her in check, preventing her from adopting too many. Despite falling in love with every one of them, knowing that she is giving them a great start to life makes it all worthwhile.

“Also the knowledge that there will always be another bunch that needs help makes it easier,” said Thomson.

She encourages everyone to consider volunteering, particularly at the Ontario SPCA. It can be difficult work, however the benefits far outweigh the negatives. She’s made lifelong friends with the same passions and interests and has seen animals thrive.

“It is very rewarding to not only know you are helping animals but see the impact you can have on the direction an animal’s life will take,” said Thompson. “I know how worthwhile that work is and the difference it makes not only to animals in our community but also to the people that love them. I believe in that work, and I am happy to give my time and energy to it.”

Volunteering is now more critical than ever.

At the start of the pandemic, the Ontario SPCA put volunteer programs on hold for public, staff and volunteer safety. Many of the roles have gone virtual or have been reinstated in a diminished capacity. All the usual fundraising events have also been cancelled or postponed. Their largest fundraiser, the Friends for Life Walk, has been replaced this year with the virtual Sweat for Pets.

“I would encourage everyone to get involved by registering and fundraising, making a donation and sharing the information about the event,” said Thompson. “If you can’t donate, join us and fundraise. Those funds will save animal lives. It’s so easy to make a difference.”

One person who is immensely grateful for people like Thompson is Heather Jobe, Community Development Coordinator, Ontario SPCA Renfrew County Animal Centre. She knows how invaluable volunteers are to the non-profit organization.

“Through their continued dedication, our volunteers provide ongoing support to help us work towards better lives for animals in need in Renfrew County,” said Jobe. “We would not be able to help as many animals as we do without them.

“We are so very grateful they share the same passion and concern for vulnerable animals in our community. Their dedication to these animals is unwavering, even during such challenging times.”

For more information on Sweat For Pets or to donate, please visit https://tinyurl.com/sweatforpets.