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December MVP: Pam Rempel

Many words can be used to describe characteristics of the volunteers of the Winnipeg Humane Society: dedication, commitment, determination, to name just a few. Volunteer Pam Rempel of the Education team embodies all these and more.

“Almost eight years ago, my husband, our cat and I realized we had a dog-sized hole in our family,” Pam recalled. “We knew we were interested in having a dog, but I had never had one before.”

They started looking at resources for a small-breed adult dog and were soon overwhelmed by the sheer volume of rescue organizations and animals of all kinds needing homes. Pam (who has limited mobility due to health issues) and her husband contacted the Winnipeg Humane Society to  volunteer until they found the right older, calmer, smaller adult dog to adopt.  “Kelle (Greene, WHS Manager, Volunteer Services) set us up with fostering, and we’ve never looked back.”

As soon as they were approved, Pam started looking  for the right match. One day the perfect fit came along, “and  it wasn’t the kind of dog that I was thinking about initially.  But, the Foster team thought that he would be just right for us when he was in a home.” Pam said.

Enter Sandy, at that time a one-year-old Lab-Husky-Greyhound mix. Not what one would describe as an older, calmer, smaller dog. It seems though, like the kind of relationship you’d find in a movie.

Sandy came into Pam’s home needing foster care while recovering after being hit by a car. It took him six months to heal completely. Then, the day came when he was ready to be returned to the WHS for adoption.

“I was determined to fulfill my commitment to ‘love them and return them’ but I could not bring myself to leave the shelter without Sandy,” Pam said.

Pam had helped nurse Sandy back to health, but the healing went both ways.

“I have really found my place in the world here,” Pam pointed out. “Sandy has been a huge part of that and what’s wonderful now is that I can volunteer with him. I’m giving him the chance to give back and bring exposure to the Humane Society. When I’m out with Sandy, I’m often told ‘What a great dog!’ I always say ‘I know, right? Look how great shelter mutts can be!’”

Pam’s volunteer involvement with the Winnipeg Humane Society started with the Foster team  but has expanded into several other areas.

Every few  weeks she comes  to the shelter to work with co-volunteer, Adele  and creates  promotional videos of animals that are in need of being showcased. Adele is the animal handler,  Pam shoots and edits the clips and the WHS posts them on social media. Some of these videos have never made it online, because the animal finds a home between filming and uploading, but that’s good news. She has a theory: “Maybe they feel a little more special? They just seem to shine a little brighter and suddenly get noticed by a forever family.”

Pam serves on two committees at the WHS – the Paws In Motion committee and the  Animal Protection Committee. “I wanted to be involved in the advocacy I felt was needed on behalf of all animals.”

But Pam and Sandy mostly love to volunteer together. As an Ambassador Dog, Sandy goes with her to represent the WHS at public events and events at the shelter, like Kid Camps. They go to presentations at schools as often as they can, as it seems it is one of Sandy’s favourite things to do.

They have also begun to participate in the brand-new Pet Empathy program for children. For an hour a week, over six weeks, a small group of specially selected students is paired with the same 2 Ambassador Dogs in order to interact and bond with them during group discussions. A WHS staff member leads each session, which deals with learning an empathetic attitude, particularly toward animals.

As one of the Therapy dog teams, they  attend “See Spot Read”, where a school brings students who may benefit from the chance to practice literacy skills in a novel way. They read aloud to Therapy Dogs for 10 weekly sessions.  The students are paired with and read to the same dog for the duration of the program. They also do fun activities to encourage a love of reading. They build a tight friendship with their dog and can show significant improvement in their reading skills.

Pam enjoys being an active volunteer in the variety of areas in which she’s involved. “We still foster, almost 8 years later. We often take care of some complicated medical cases, but I really enjoy it. And interacting with kids with Sandy at my side is so fulfilling. ” she said.

Staff and volunteers can get used to seeing her around for a long time. She plans to keep “doing this until they all have a home.”

 

Written by: Brian Kozak, Volunteer MVP Writer
Photo by: Jim Harvey, Volunteer MVP Photographer

A group of volunteers founded the Winnipeg Humane Society in 1894 and are vital to our success today! With the help of volunteers, we can provide care, love and attention to our four (and sometimes two) legged friends until they find their forever homes. The MVP (Monthly Volunteer Profile) will recognize the work and get to know these special MVP’s in a spotlight each month that includes an article and photo shoot. MVPs will receive a framed photo and gift card as our thanks!

Is there a volunteer you’d like to nominate to be MVP? E-mail us (volunteer@winnipeghumanesociety.ca) and tell us why you think they should be an MVP!

Check out our previous MVP’s