Pets Are Family


Three years ago, a call came into our organization that changed the course of our work permanently. A community member needed our help. Tara, a young mom, living on disability, was faced with an emergency situation with her beloved family cat. With a broken leg, surgery was unaffordable and wanting the very best for him, she made the decision to surrender Milo into our care.

Three years ago, our organization recognized that we needed to provide an alternative to surrender. We knew we needed to keep pets and people together because this represents the very foundation of our work. We cherish and value the human-animal bond and we know that pets makes us healthier people. Pets build healthier communities. 

In fact, science has proven this. Children with pets have healthier immune systems, seniors with pets experience alleviation of isolation and they live longer. People with pets have proven to rely less heavily on our health care system, they are happier, more socially outgoing and physically healthier. 

Over my last eight years as Executive Director I have had the extraordinary privilege of witnessing our work in action and marveling at the deep connection between people and pets. I have witnessed hundreds of people like Tara and her pet, live richer, fuller, healthier lives as a result of their relationship with animals. In fact, our humane education program, which works with 2000 youth in the south Georgian Bay region in classrooms in our community every year has measured an 25% growth in emotion and social skill development of youth working with animals. 

Bottom line, pets provide us with unconditional love and acceptance. The Human-Animal Bond Research Institute considers animals to be a universally embraced essential element of human wellness. So, if pets make us healthier, and they are an essential part of our wellness, how do we make this wellness accessible to all humans? How do make this wellness available to Milo’s owner? The reality is that in our area, 18% of the population lives below the poverty line which is 4% higher than the national area. We know that if you’re living in poverty your priorities are transportation, housing and access to food. Veterinary care, especially emergency surgery, is simply not an option.  

Every day our animal centre receives more and more calls asking for help with cases similar to Milo’s, and we anticipate this number to grow with our current economic climate. Folks are turning to us in times of domestic violence, temporary loss of housing, unexpected illness of a beloved pet or just plain life taking a turn for the worse. These stories all have a common theme: These people want to keep their pets. They love them but they cannot afford the cost of the temporary boarding, care, medication or support.  Therefore, in honour of Milo and Tara, we launched the GTHS Pet Support Services and they work in three ways in our community:

We provide Emergency Medical Assistance to financially limited pet owners that are experiencing crisis or emergency. 

We provide Emergency Boarding to pets of families fleeing domestic violence. We know that 56% of women will delay leaving a situation of abuse if a pet is at home.

Finally, we distribute pet food to pet owners in need. We know that people will prioritize food for their pet over nutrition for themselves and we are working to ensure this is not a choice that has to be made. 
Three years ago, we witnessed the reunion between Milo and Tara when we changed the course of our work forever and returned Milo to his family. The moment took our breath away and we have never looked back since. 

Together, with our generous donors and our communities, we are working together to strengthen and build resilience in our community by ensuring that no pet or family slips through the cracks. Help us spread the word and build a strong south Georgian Bay for us all.


Stay informed on GTHS events, initiatives and programs. Learn how the GTHS team is serving the pets and people of the South Georgian Bay Area. Read heart-warming Happy Tails about GTHS Alumni. See a lot of really cute pictures of dogs and cats!