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HELPERS: For the love of animals; volunteer and be rewarded with lots of cuddles

Donna Chalmers has been loving the animals at the OSPCA's Midland branch for almost 20 years. She has loved every minute of it
Donna Chalmers and Sky
Donna Chalmers and her northern rescue dog Sky take a break from walking at Little Lake Park in Midland. Chalmers has rescued three dogs in her 17 years as a volunteer with the Midland OSPCA. Cynthia McQueen photo

“It’s like getting a brand new baby,” says Donna Chalmers about her rescue dog.

“Have you ever seen their puppies?” Chalmers asks laughing about the adorable mixed-breed puppies northern dogs produce — almost always with some husky, or, in Sky’s case, some wolf thrown into the mix.

Chalmers, a volunteer with 17 years’ experience loving the animals at the local Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, adopted Sky four years ago.

With northern dogs, Chalmers says, you never know what you’re going to get. Some have never been in a home, and others have never been in a car. When they begin to understand that they no longer have to hunt or fight for food, “They really appreciate it.”

When Sky came to Midland, she was sick. She had Lyme disease and heartworm. She had also been shot.

“She’s got pellets in her,” explains Chalmers. “When she hears a loud noise. She gets nervous and she runs.”

Adopting a northern rescue dog is an act of love, and requires patience because some of these animals have been abused by humans. Others are more feral than domesticated. The payoff for the work required to care for a rescue dog comes in how they show their love and appreciation.

“Northern dogs know they’re being rescued and it’s great,” says Chalmers beaming about her love for Sky

Since she started volunteering at the Midland OSPAC nearly 20 years ago, Chalmers has adopted three rescue dogs.

That’s a lot of dogs, a lot of care, and a lot of time.

“I’ve loved every minute of it,” says Chalmers about spending her time volunteering with the Midland OSPCA. “It’s like a second home to me over there.”

Chalmers works primarily with the dogs, but says she will help with the cats or the rabbits and do whatever needs to be done.

“If the dishes or laundry need doing, I’ll do that. If the floors need cleaning, because we have to keep the runs inside and outside very clean, I’ll do that,” says the committed volunteer.

After that, you are repaid with cuddles and play time with the animals.

“When you’re done with the work, you can play with the cats, rabbits, or whatever animals we have," she adds.

All the volunteers help each other to get the work done together because it’s a community among animal lovers.

Chalmers says the work you do as a volunteer at the Midland OSPCA is just as good for you as it is for the animals.

“It's soothing,” says the dog lover about spending time with the animals. “It calms people down.

“A lot of the animals come in and they look so sad. As long as we can make them happy, then we know we’re doing our jobs.

"If people want love and the attention,” says Chalmers, “If you’re at the SPCA, you’ll get it.”

The Midland branch of the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will soon be welcoming its volunteers back to the facility after more than a year and a half without their help due to the pandemic. If you’re interested in volunteering with the animals, or adopting a loving animal, please click here.