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HELPERS: Backpacks spread 'pawsitivity' to pets in need

'There are many individuals that need support, and we don’t want any family to have to rehome their pet because they don’t have supplies or can’t afford food,' says Ontario SPCA and Humane Society of it new Pawsitive Packs initiative

A little positivity goes a long way.

And for pet owners in Newmarket, good vibes come in the form of Pawsitive Packs, a charitable initiative run by the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society that provides much-needed supplies and resources to local pets and owners in need.

Launched just a couple of months ago, the program has already provided more than 20 backpacks filled with goods to pets and owners facing homelessness or financial insecurity in the area. To ensure supplies reach those who need it most, the OSPCA works with local social service agencies and food banks to identify pets in need and distribute the backpacks throughout the community.

“We’ve been reaching out into the community to find out their needs with their pets,” said Lori Macleod, York community outreach co-ordinator with the Ontario SPCA. “One of the ways the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society is working to keep pets with those who love them is through Pawsitive Packs.”

Backpacks are designed to cover a wide range of pet needs – which, at the present moment, extends to dogs and cats. In addition to staples like pet food, collars, and leashes, backpacks contain goodies like mats and beds, grooming products, food and drink containers, and toys. Depending on the time of year they’re distributed, they’re also customized to the season – like thick winter coats and boots in winter and raincoats in spring.

“Our biggest goal now is to get the awareness out there that this is an initiative we’ve started and would love to see blossom,” said MacLeod. “There are many individuals that need support, and we don’t want any family to have to rehome their pet because they don’t have supplies or can’t afford food.”

Pawsitive Packs is the latest service offered by the OSPCA and Humane Society, which operates a variety of free or low-cost community outreach services like emergency sheltering, pet loss support, feral cat care, and transportation to and from spay and neuter clinics. They also provide wellness examinations, vaccinations, and end-of-life care for families without the financial means to take their animal to a local veterinarian.

To help keep furry bellies full, the OSPCA also works with local food banks and social service agencies to distribute pet food where it’s needed most. Last year, community and sponsor support resulted in 1 million free meals provided for pets across Ontario.

As the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society receives no funding from the government, they rely on the generosity of the community to operate these and other programs. Those who are interested in supporting Pawsitive Packs can drop off donations during Doors Open Whitchurch-Stouffville (16586 Woodbine Ave., Stouffville) June 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or email [email protected] to make alternate arrangements.