When I contacted Stellarton native Dr. Grace Richardson in October 2021 about the Nova Scotia SPCA’s plans to build a new animal welfare facility in Pictou County, she immediately got excited and wanted to learn more about how she could help.
Soon after, I met with Grace at her office to share our plans. The new facility would be centrally located in Stellarton’s Albion Business Park and fully accessible. It would include a shelter, thrift store and veterinary hospital. In addition to treating shelter animals, the hospital would be open to the public.
Having lived in the community for most of her life and visited the SPCA’s current shelter in Pictou County numerous times, she knew how badly it needed to be replaced. She also knew how difficult it had become for those in her community to access veterinary care for their companion animals. She committed right then and there to making a financial pledge to help with the construction costs of the new facility making her one of the first to do so.
Caring for animals and supporting her local SPCA has always been in Grace’s DNA.
“I was born with a love for animals. I was three years old when we got our first puppy and I recall being madly in love with her: a smaller brown curly haired little girl Suzie who lived to be 17. It would break my heart to see an injured animal and I was always trying to save them – which often involved having my parents assist me. I think I inherited this trait from my mother who was also a lover of animals and always supported the SPCA.”
“I once wrote an article about the cruelty of trapping and killing feral cat colonies in Pictou County and published it in the local newspaper (the Evening News) in a letter to the editor column when I was a teen. An employee from natural resources responded to me by calling me at home. His mission was to change my opinion that these wild animals were not worthy of saving and were not your typical friendly house pet. I disagreed with him then and now almost 40 years later am happy that public perception of these animals has changed.”
She also fondly remembers her experience raising funds for the local Pictou Shelter in her late teens.
“My first volunteer job was selling barbequed hamburgers at the old Superstore location in New Glasgow when I was an older teen/young adult. The irony was at that time I did not eat meat, but I didn’t let this stop me from raising money for the SPCA.”
In her twenties, Grace made the difficult decision to leave Pictou County to further her education in the field of dentistry and orthodontics. She enrolled in dental school at Dalhousie University in Halifax where she graduated at the top of her class. She then went on to graduate from Marquette University’s Orthodontic program in Milwaukee Wisconsin.
Several years later, she was approached about an opportunity to start treating patients in Pictou County and she jumped at the chance.
“I was asked by a local dentist to consider treating patients in the area as there was not a practicing Orthodontist in Pictou County. The dental community appreciated that a specialist was providing treatment to their patients, and I was able to fill a void in the area. Eventually, I set up a second location in Antigonish. I love this community and it is my honor to be able to help people achieve their smile goals and provide this service.”
Grace moved back to Stellarton in 2011 where she lives with her husband Tim, daughters’ Brooke and Carly, dogs Poppy and Tessa and cats Murphy and Princess Chloe (SPCA alumni).
Since moving back to Pictou County, life has been extremely busy for Grace with the pressures of raising a young family (human and furry) and building a business. In spite of her busy schedule, she’s always found time for her first life passion of helping animals. She’s been one of the most loyal supporters of the SPCA’s Pictou shelter on Granton Abercrombie Road. In addition to being an annual sponsor of one of the Pictou shelter’s kennels, she’s also helped her daughter organize summer bake sales to raise funds for the shelter and set up a donation jar at her annual dental continuing education event.
Now that her practice is well established and daughters are older, she looks forward to volunteering again for the SPCA when their new facility opens in the Spring of 2024. This is something that is even more special to her as she will be able to do it with one of her daughters.
“With the new build – conveniently located in Stellarton’s Albion Business Park, my youngest daughter and I look very forward to helping out in the facility as much as possible.”
She encourages others to consider volunteering too.
“Once the facility is open, a significant number of volunteers will be required to help with animal enhancement in the shelter and retail operations in the thrift store. The thrift store is primarily run by volunteers and will be a substantial revenue generator for the SPCA.”
“Please consider volunteering for this wonderful charity! It’s a great way to support the new facility in addition to making a financial donation. You will be helping your community, as well as providing the most vulnerable animals a chance for a loving home and a deserving future.”
When asked about what the new facility will mean for the community, Grace said,
“I think the new shelter will build a stronger relationship between the SPCA and our wonderful community, connecting more people with this charity. Like the tag line on the SPCA’s website says, “Saving Lives, Creating Families.” I think the new location will be highly visible and create a greater connection and sense of pride. I am confident many more deserving animals will find their forever homes.”
If you’re interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities in the new facility, click here or call Catherine at 902-835-4798.