Mission Focused: Keeping People and Pets Together

Room: St Laurent 8

Charlotte McInnis
, Animal Attendant, Oromocto and Area SPCA
Donna Jenkins, Founder/President, Zachary's Paws For Healing
Marion Emo, President and CEO, Hamilton/Burlington SPCA

Families today include pet companions, and pets are family members. For many, our pets are the reason we get up in the morning and a pet companion may be our best friend or only friend. There are risks for family wellbeing when resources and resilience are in short supply to sustain this human animal bond.

Keeping people and pets together is a growing mission in many communities. The Kibble Food Bank in Oromocto New Brunswick is an animal support program for low income families, offering short and long-term feed and animal supplies. Zachary’s Paws for Healing (ZPFH) in Hamilton Ontario fosters pets belonging to persons most often elderly and with few resources, when their pet parents need hospital care. This ensures pet owners get the care they need, knowing their furry family members are safe. The pets too benefit from health care provided by the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA and funded by PetSmart Charities of Canada.

Both the Kibble Food Bank and ZPFH are leveraging the time, treasure and talents of volunteers, donors, the animal welfare industry, social and health services. It takes a village to keep people and pets together, thriving.


  1. Pets and people are a healing combination: what do we know?
  2. The necessity of “village” to keep people and pets together: success factors for leveraging support, networks for just in time response, and dealing with the unexpected.
  3. Balancing volunteers and gifts in kind with talent and treasure; programs need both.

Charlotte McInnis has been with the Oromocto and Area SPCA as a volunteer and then staff member for more than 20 years. She heads up the Humane Education Program and has recently placed Lyme Disease activity books in the Fredericton/Oromocto local elementary schools. Charlotte is a dog trainer with more than 10 years of experience in obedience and animal behaviour.


Donna Jenkins was raised in the deep southern United States in a small town: Roswell, Georgia. She earned a BA degree in Secondary Education from the University of Georgia and a BA degree in Logistics from Auburn University. Donna spent the majority of her adult career in Public Relations and in the trucking industry. She married her Canadian husband and has lived in Ontario for the past twenty years.  Six years ago, her nephew, Zachary, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Hodgkin's Lymphoma.  Before Zachary's death in November 2014, he made it known that his final wish was that all patients get the opportunity to have visits with their pets while they are in hospital. Donna has fulfilled Zachary's wish by founding Zachary's Paws for Healing as his lasting legacy, and their organization is known around the world as a trailblazer for patients and pets in Canada.


Marion Emo is President and CEO of the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA (HBSPCA), a registered animal welfare charity serving the community since 1887. Her educational background is social work and urban planning and, for 20 years, she worked in Ontario’s health sector on system design and the organization of health services for optimal health and wellness for people and communities. She discovered that these imperatives are not much different in the animal world.  Marion serves on Humane Canada’s Cat Task Force, which advised on the national cat overpopulation research and resultant report, Cats in Canada 2017: A Five-Year Review of Cat Overpopulation.

The HBSPCA continues to be an innovator and early adopter. The shelter was a pilot site for the Shelter to Vet Program, linking each new pet parent and their Cat Healthy Adoption Checklist™, with a community veterinarian for follow-up and life-long care. Staff participated in the Capacity for Care (C4C) Online Boot Camp program offered by Humane Canada in order to learn how to optimize shelter resources and processes for best outcomes.

HBSPCA has a focus on keeping people and pets together, outreach programs, providing spay/neuter for pets in families with the least access to veterinary services, health checks and more for pet companions belonging to our community's most vulnerable citizens, as well as ambulatory care for cats at risk of surrender. The Home Again Program, supported by a PetSmart Charities of Canada grant, provides health checks and veterinary services for pet companions fostered by Zachary's Paws for Healing for hospitalized patients, who are most often elderly, isolated and with few resources.

Marion's social change interests include livable environments, living wage and knowledge transfer. While hardly a gardener, Marion continues to experiment with native grasses in her backyard.