Sunday, January 24, 2021

The Pet Expert: Pet Industry Volunteers Thriving with New Skills During COVID-19

The pandemic has forced thousands of Canadians to learn new digital skills, such as online shopping and organizing virtual meetings. Small business owners have taken to building e-commerce stores, teaching online classes, and more. Service groups have successfully run online auctions, and connected with their followers via live videos.

It’s a new, digital world we live in, and those who can adapt are learning to thrive in this environment.

Pet industry volunteers are no exception. This year we’ve seen a surge in requests for online auction donations, digital fundraiser sponsorships, and even requests for advice for becoming more visible on social media.

Volunteers are the unsung heroes of the pet industry. Every day, they work tirelessly in rescues, shelters, and other organizations. They work to ensure the safety and well-being of our nation’s most vulnerable animals, assisting with much needed medical care, and helping them find loving forever homes. It is often a thankless and exhausting job, and the compassion of these individuals knows no bounds.

Fundraisers are crucial to the operations of animal rescues and shelters. Animals in need of veterinary attention are often surrendered to shelters because the cost of care is too high. It falls on the shoulders of pet industry volunteers to raise funds in order to provide the quality of life these animals deserve. Adoption fees cover a portion of the cost, but oftentimes it only covers a small fraction.

Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 has thrown a wrench into the usual fundraising plans for pet industry volunteers in 2020, and possibly in 2021. However, that doesn’t change the fact that there are countless animals in need of food, shelter, and medical care.

In normal, non-pandemic times, volunteer organizations depend heavily on adopt-a-thons, community bake sales, pet food drives, and other in-person fundraisers to keep them in operation. Fortunately, volunteers have been learning new skills and adapting to the challenges of social restrictions.

The Georgian Triangle Humane Society, for example, was unable to host their usual Walkathon this year. Instead, they held an altered form of the popular event, called Walkathon Your Way. This was a wildly popular initiative, as participants recorded and photographed themselves walking, running, and even paddle-boarding to raise funds for GTHS.

Jacks To The Rescue, PURR, and dozens of other rescues held online auctions to raise funds this year, bringing in tens of thousands of dollars to support their organizations. Having a more captive, at-home audience helped a great deal in garnering attention and interest in these fundraising activities.

Pet industry volunteers have adapted to overcome the challenges of fundraising during a pandemic, an impressive feat to say the least. They play a vital role in the well-being of animals across the country, and are an irreplaceable public service.

While these fundraisers may have been successful, that doesn’t mean they don’t still need help. Consider reaching out to local rescues and shelters to find out what they need the most. Donations of food, litter, blankets, and money are always appreciated and can go a long way to keeping an organization alive.

At some point in our lives, many of us will adopt a rescue pet. Whether your pet came from a big or small organization, without volunteers odds are none of that would have been made possible.

Brandon Forder, known as The Pet Expert, is vice-president of Canadian Pet Connection, an industry leader in healthy pet lifestyles. Brandon is certified in pet nutrition, and has more than twenty-five years’ experience specializing in pet health and behaviour. He has written hundreds of informative pet-related articles for newspapers, magazines, radio, and the popular Ask the Pet Expert Blog. Brandon is highly skilled in pet problem solving, and enjoys teaching others about smart and responsible pet ownership. To learn more, visit www.CanadianPetConnection.ca.

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