Since its inception in 1953, the Sarnia & District Humane Society has been a haven for unwanted, neglected, and lost and found animals. What started as a one-room shack, has grown into a community-supported shelter that provides wellness clinics for the community, emergency housing, and education. “When I first came on, we had twelve staff members, and today there are 24, including Joanna and Debbie, who have both been here 39 years and counting! Their knowledge is a great resource to us, especially those new to the field of shelter animal care,” shares Donna Pyette, Executive Director.
The shelter takes in over 3,000 animals a year with animals being transferred in and out to shelter partners to find forever homes. “We care for all unwanted or abandoned animals in Lambton County until they are adopted. We also provide temporary housing in first responder situations.” Each pet adopted from the Sarnia & District Humane Society is spayed or neutered.
Volunteers play a big role in the organization. “We would be lost without them. They help with fundraising events, dog walking, cat grooming, and fostering animals. There are over 200 dedicated people when you look at those three main areas.” Walkers take each dog on three-to-four walks per day while cat groomers come in and socialize daily. “Many of these volunteers have been assisting us for a long time. We also have volunteers that help us with maintenance work around the shelter.”
The shelter is now focused on a Capital Campaign to build a new facility. “Our current shelter has served us well for close to 40 years, but it has come to the end of its useful life. The maintenance costs have become unsustainable,” explains Donna. With a ventilation system that meets only the minimum standard for air quality, the risk of airborne disease is high. “Our dog kennels are small and not nearly stimulating enough. Office space is used for post-surgical animals, our quarantine room is used for new moms and pups, and extra space to properly segregate aggressive animals is non-existent which poses an everyday risk to staff and volunteers.”
Staff and volunteers utilize every nook and cranny of the space for animal housing, care and storage. “In short, our facility is busting at the seams! These issues along with the overwhelming needs in our community prompted us to look at solutions. We have been working hard to secure a location to build a larger facility that will significantly increase what we are able to offer to animals and owners in Sarnia-Lambton.”
The Sarnia & District Humane Society is excited to announce they have been given the green light to build a new shelter in Centennial Park. The new facility is focused on reducing animal stress with more space, and adding completely different areas for cat and dog populations. Draft plans include a spacious adoption lobby, multiple community cat rooms and an in-house veterinary clinic complete with surgery, X-ray, and lab testing capabilities. “All of these resources will allow for a healthy and happy transition of animals to their new homes.”