Do you have a favorite movie? Have you ever thought about the hundreds of people working hard behind-the-scenes to make the movie magic you see on the screen possible? It’s the same for the Nova Scotia SPCA. They depend on hundreds of dedicated volunteers across the province to help make the magic of saving lives and creating families possible. These volunteers come from all walks of life, from different backgrounds, experiences and ages to be the voice and hands of compassion and hope for homeless animals. They may often be working behind-the-scenes, but to the animals and SPCA staff, they are superstars.
I caught up with Carolyn McNally, a loyal SPCA volunteer for over 12 years! In May 2009, Carolyn’s beloved dog Cagney passed away. She wasn’t ready to get another dog, but loved dogs and wanted to be around them, so she started volunteering in the Dartmouth Shelter. Working alongside staff, Carolyn fulfills a weekly shift that focuses on animal care – washing blankets, bowls and kennels; walking dogs and spending time socializing them.
Carolyn explained “My initial reason for volunteering was my love of dogs and to help them out, but I soon realized how dogs at the shelter gave me so much love in return. There’s nothing better when you’re having a bad day and you can get cuddles and snuggles from a shelter pup!” She continued “The staff are amazing and the animals are given the best care, but the shelter can be a scary place for the animals to adjust. So, I enjoy spending time with the dogs and giving them as much lovin’ as I can when I’m there. I now sneak in snuggles with the cats too when there is time!”
Carolyn’s love of dogs soon led her to becoming a ‘fur-ever foster’ in the SPCA’s Palliative Care Program, that allows senior pets with manageable health concerns to live out the rest of their lives in a loving foster home. Carolyn shared “The palliative care experience was incredible. I fostered three amazing dogs – Bubbles, China and Martha. It was a privilege to see them settle in and watch their personalities blossom as they realized that they had a safe and fur-ever home. The fact that they were leaving this world knowing they were loved was huge.”
Carolyn’s role as a foster fur-mama didn’t end there. She has also fostered kittens over the years. “It was hard to say good-bye to the kittens, but I was glad to give them a good start in life and knew they’d be adopted into wonderful homes, she said.” Through her experience fostering, Carolyn became a cat person too and ended up adopting two cats – Greyson and Rochester! “I quickly realized that sewing and knitting would be more challenging when you have cats than when you have a dog. The thread and yarn proved very enticing to the boys!” chuckled Carolyn.
In addition to donating supplies to the shelter whenever there was a call for help, Carolyn has also shared her time, skills and passion at various SPCA fund-raising events each year including manning booths and crafting items for sale. In short, she does it all!
Ask any volunteer and they’ll tell you how rewarding the experience is. Carolyn is no exception. “The companionship, love and laughter that my foster and palliative care fur-babies have brought me is immeasurable, and I have received much love from all the animals I’ve had the privilege to interact with. I’ve also made great friends with staff and other volunteers. There are so many different ways to help – both inside and outside the shelter – and with each act of kindness, no matter how big or small, you’ll know you are making a difference in the lives of deserving homeless animals.”
The SPCA always needs volunteers to join the team. Are you ready to put your paw up to help, but not sure how to start or what opportunities are available? The purr-fect opportunity is waiting for you right here.