I think we can all safely say that 2020 has not been quite the year we all expected. When coronavirus first crossed my radar I was pretty naive to say the least, thinking like many others that “it’s no worse than the flu!”. I was in for a rude awakening when the schools shut down and we were all suddenly on lock down. From a rescue perspective we had to think fast and figure out what the heck all this meant for our rescue dogs. Suddenly we weren’t able to get routine veterinary appointments, spay/neuter was not happening and we had to rethink how/if we could do adoptions safely. On top of that, with so many people home with nothing to do, we were getting a huge influx of foster and adoption applications – more than ever before – so our volunteer’s workload increased exponentially.
The first decision we had to make was about our in-person fundraisers, especially our Golf Fore Dogs Tournament which was in it’s 11th year and was our largest fundraiser. Golf Fore Dogs brought in just over $15,000 last year and that money is essential for paying down veterinary expenses and allowing us to confidently accept more dogs into our care. Cancelling our tournament was necessary, that was clear, but the financial hit the rescue would take was a hard pill to swallow. We had to think of new ways to connect with supporters – online raffles, an empties drive, an online donation campaign. Attempting to offset that huge fundraising loss has not been easy, thankfully we have an amazing team of volunteers who are continuing to step up to help in any way they can. We’re also lucky to have the best followers and supporters of our rescue mission making us more confident that we can (and WILL) do this.
We switched to doing paperwork online to make owner surrenders as well as adoptions mostly “contact-free”. We put new procedures into place for meet and greets at adoption time to ensure volunteer and adopter safety. We restricted the transfer of items (collars/leash/toys/etc.) and kept all interactions outside and socially distanced. And we limited the amount of people who would be present at adoptions by doing the admin work online rather than in person. To be honest, I miss being present at almost every adoption but this was a necessary shift to do the best we could to prevent the spread of COVID. Rescue was listed as an essential service early on but we certainly have not taken that designation lightly.
Our rescue’s adoption policies include a 2 week minimum hold period for every dog that enters our rescue and we don’t adopt any dogs out until all of their vetting has been completed. This proved to be a challenge when veterinary clinics were restricted in what appointments they were able to provide. Spay/neuter was not an essential service so many of our dogs were “stuck” for several extra weeks before we could place them up for adoption. Luckily our foster volunteers are the best there are and they took all of this change in stride and didn’t bat an eye when their foster dogs turned into longer-term fosters. And once things opened up a little more for our veterinary partners the clinics we work with did the best they could with getting all of our dogs scheduled in as efficiently as they could.
At the beginning of June we were contacted by a family who needed help in a bad way. They had far too many dogs in their home and because the dogs were not spayed/neutered, the breeding was completely out of hand. After being rejected by an animal agency they had reached out to for help they weren’t sure where to turn. Thankfully they emailed Precious Paws and within 2 days of contacting us we were able to remove 39 dogs and 8 cats from the home with the help of some other dedicated organizations who responded immediately to our call for help. Huge thanks to Speaking of Dogs, Pound Dog Rescue, The Animal Guardian Society and Street Cats Rescue for helping with this operation. 18 of the dogs remained with Precious Paws Rescue – our largest one-day intake yet and since 1 of the females we rescued later gave birth to 3 puppies, our total was 21 from this rescue!
So now on top of decreased fundraising, we’ve also taken in more dogs so far in 2020 than we rescued in all of 2019. Our veterinary expenses are so far over $65,000 which again is more than our veterinary expenses for all of 2019. Every year we take in several special medical needs dogs and this year has been no exception. From puppies surrendered due to parvovirus to dogs with broken legs, from dogs with severe dental disease to dogs with severe skin issues and allergies, we’ve said YES to so many dogs who’ve truly needed us this year. To say that this has been a challenging year would be a vast understatement. But oh my goodness has it ever been rewarding.
This year has proven to be the most challenging year we’ve had since our start 14 years ago. But I can honestly say it’s also been the most amazing. Our volunteer team has grown and our supporters have rallied. Cancelling our in-person fundraisers for the year left me in tears with a heck of a lot of anxiety about how we would make this year work and still be able to accept the dogs who need us most. But we’re doing it and we’re rocking it. Not without a heck of a lot of volunteer hours but also with a tremendous amount of smiles and happy tears for the enormous difference we’ve made in so many lives this year. And it’s only August! We’ve still got 4 more months to shine and I know, with all of you, it’s going to be a record-breaking, outstanding year – COVID19 and all.
*Want to help? Consider making a tax-deductible donation today! You could also create your own giving page through CanadaHelps and ask family and friends to make a donation in your honour. Have some empties stinking up your garage? Drop them off at one of our drop off locations! Have a gift card or new item that you’re not going to use/don’t want? Consider donating it to be put in our fall online auction! There are many different ways to help and your support means the world to the dogs who need us most.