MONDAY, APRIL 15
Karen McGeean, Director of Marketing & Development, Fredericton Humane Society
May 2018 was a May like any other year in Fredericton. The winter ice and snow was melting and heading downstream towards Fredericton, just like any other year. However, a warm front moved in and, all of a sudden, the yearly flood became a torrent of water rising to 30 feet high and staying for almost two weeks. Everyone was caught off-guard as the waters rose a foot per hour. Those that lived in the low-lying areas, mostly farming communities and low-income families, suffered the brunt of the flood, cutting them off from getting to their homes to rescue their animals or leaving everything behind with only their animals and the clothes on their backs but nowhere to go. Fredericton had been hit with the worse flood in recorded history.
Two weeks prior to "The Flood" I attended Humane Canada’s 2018 National Animal Welfare Conference in Calgary as a Royal Canin Elevation Travel Grant recipient. Although this was not the first National Animal Welfare Conference I had attended, I was lucky enough to meet the Royal Canin team at a morning breakfast. Later that day, I talked with almost every vendor that was there, including Frances Chelso from Hill's Pet Nutrition Canada Inc., who had a disaster relief program that I had been interested in because you can never be too prepared. Later that night, I dropped by the Opening Social. Though I was really tired, I decided to stop in and grab a snack, which is where I met Dani Mailing from PetSmart Charities of Canada. We ended up discussing grants our shelter could get that I wasn't aware of. The conference was a huge success, meeting with wonderful, empowering people and learning from those that dealt with things that our little shelter was going through.
Fast forward to a week after my return from the conference, and the massive flood that hit our area. We had never dealt with a disaster like this in Fredericton, so things were very chaotic. Immediately, I received a call from Frances offering food to families with pets. I contacted Dani at PetSmart Charities of Canada and received a Disaster Grant to help the pets stay healthy during the flood, wherever they were located. Then Royal Canin came on board with a generous shipment of food, and so many more organizations sent items to help, from leashes to pet beds to monetary donations. In total, we as a team were able to help 32 dogs, 126 cats, 2 horses and 2 rabbits.
- Being a small shelter (less than 1000 animals per year intake), shouldn't limit the help you can offer. Think outside the box, look for outside solutions and talk to everyone you think can help. You can make an impact for the families and pets that need the help.
- Network, network, network! Looking back at the connections I made at the conference, I didn't realize the impact it would have going forward, but it was meant to help me formulate a plan to help during one of the worst disasters for our city.
- Just do something...it doesn't have to be as big as the wildfire rescues in Alberta and BC. Just do what you can with what you can muster. You can make a difference.
Karen McGeean has been in the animal welfare industry for more than 20 years, in such capacities as a Board Member, Volunteer, Fundraiser and Marketing Professional. Currently her position is Director of Marketing & Development for the Fredericton SPCA. She helps to raise funds through events and networking for the FSPCA, which is 100 per cent donation based. Karen has always loved animals and knew from a young age that this was her passion and calling. She lives in Fredericton with her husband and a plethora of special needs cats that call their house home for the length of their quality of life.