The “Unleashed” Day Camp invited kids into the centre to play with animals as well as to learn more about them. It was held from Aug. 11 to 18. In the back row, from left, are Heather Jobe, Hali De Ruiter. Kalan Layden, Charlotte Penney, Mylah Shaver, Taylor Schroeder, Ava Chaput, Victoria Davison, Cassie Goyette, and Brianne Maltby. In the front row, from left, are Brianna Taylor, Madison Taylor, Aethan Sunderland, Taihei McKinnon, Rachel Beady and Jacob Mackenzie. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

“Unleashing” a love for animals


Posted on Thursday, August 31, 2017

Kids’ enthusiasm for animals was “Unleashed” during the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Ontario SPCA) Renfrew County Animal Centre’s Day Camp.

For the first time in many years, the Petawawa centre opened its doors to youth between the ages of eight and 11, allowing them to interact with animals while learning how to take care of them. Two one-week long sessions were held in July and August with about a dozen campers in each. “It’s been way better than we ever expected,” said Animal Care Attendant Heather Jobe.

The camp featured many special visitors with their own animals including the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) K-9 unit and a critter farm with exotic animals. The kids visited Canyon Creek Farm as well as the Pembroke Animal Hospital. They also spent time with the shelter animals, as well as feeding and cleaning them. “We have a lot of two and four-legged visitors, a lot of experts from the field bringing their animals in and talking to us and teaching the kids different things,” said Jobe. “I’d love to have this every day.”

It is an opportunity for the kids to get more involved with the animal welfare organization, perhaps get them ready to volunteer on their own once they are older.

Some of the kids have even offered their time and gotten involved with the Friends for Life! Walk, which is an annual fundraising initiative for the Ontario SPCA. The local event will be held on Sept. 23 at the Pembroke Marina. The walk is a major fundraiser for the Society and takes place in 17 locations across the province.
Encouraging participants to volunteer with the centre wasn’t the camp’s main goal, however, as organizers hoped to simply see the kids have fun with pets.

This was the case for Cassie Goyette, 11. She absolutely adored the chance to spend some time with cats, dogs and bunnies. “I love animals,” she said. “I wanted to do something with my second-to-last week of summer so I decided to come here because I wanted to help animals and play with animals.” She would without a doubt come back next year.

Many shared this sentiment and organizers are planning to hold the camp at other times, and may open it up to different age groups. “It is all about getting involved,” said Jobe. “We want our centre to be a welcoming place where everybody is working towards the common goal of helping these animals.”

Upcoming camps will be listed on the Ontario SPCA Renfrew County Animal Centre’s Facebook page.