A Category 4 Hurricane Can’t Stop These 4 Women

By Ryan Toomey

I think we can all agree that 2022 seemed to throw curve ball after curve ball. It was no different for the Putts Fore Pets committee organizing the annual golf tournament fundraiser for the Cape Breton SPCA.

It felt as though they were about to cross the finish line and see all their hard work pay off in the form of lasting impact on local pets in need. Linda, Barb, Laura and Joanne had just buttoned up the planning for the SPCA’s most ambitious golf tournament to date in mid-September 2022. Dozens of phone calls to loyal supporters to secure sponsorships and very few spots left for registration; Everything was pointing to another fantastic year for the committee to raise much need funds for the local shelter.

On September 19th, just days from tournament set to take place on the 23rd  when they got word about heavy rains going into the weekend. The committee agreed it wouldn’t be an ideal day but it looked as though the rain wouldn’t start until the very end of the tournament. Little did they know, these heavy rains would turn into one of the most devastating storms to hit Cape Breton Island in decades…

They watched as the rain amounts doubled… then tripled… and then the news broke. A category 4 hurricane was set on a clear path towards the island and would begin to make landfall during the tournament. Work began immediately to try and salvage all their efforts to help pets in need.

While others were out stocking up on supplies and preparing for the storm, the committee was hard at work postponing the Putts Fore Pets Tournament. It took over a hundred phone calls but through their dedication to the cause, they successfully moved the tournament to October 7th.

Linda, Barb, Laura and Joanne’s super hero story doesn’t end here! You might already know how this part of the story goes… Hurricane Fiona devastated the island, leaving some of our favorite places nearly unrecognizable. For those of you who were in the direct path of Fiona like the committee was, you likely know someone who had been displaced or severely impacted or maybe you were yourself. It was a very emotional time for our community as we tried to find words to express the profound loss we all felt.

I was on the ground during Fiona assessing the damage done to our operations in Cape Breton. The power was out, our generator was running out of propane, and we had sustained major damage to essential portions of our shelter. We needed immediate help to protect the animals in our care and to ensure we can continue to be there for Cape Breton’s pets and their families. Of course, I reached out to the committee immediately to let them know what was happening.

Although the committee was facing their own issues related to Fiona, they found the time to ensure the local pets were also getting the help they needed. They quickly refined there plans for the tournament to ensure the SPCA was able to fully recover from Fiona. Barb’s family even agreed to match donations for the day!

The day of the tournament felt like a much-needed break from the reality that was Fiona. For the day, we all left our homes that were ravaged by the storm. Some were even dealing with destroyed roofs and construction fans drying out their homes as they spent the day raising much needed funds for local hurt and homeless pets. This was an act of selflessness that very few people can boast. Of course, we all checked in with each other often but the general message I heard was “There is nothing else I can do to help myself right now, so I need to help others.”

$32,000 was raised through the selflessness of these four incredible, caring women. In a time of crisis, the Putts Fore Pets committee responded with grace and compassion. We can all learn a lesson from Linda, Barb, Joanne and Linda.


Ryan Toomey

Ryan is a Development Officer with the Nova Scotia SPCA and proud adoptive fur-papa to Jake and Sam. He is determined to ensure homeless pets get the help they deserve.