A Calgary-based pet charity is transforming the lives of many pet-owners as it has been raising money to provide essential care for pets in need.
Parachutes for Pets was started by Melissa David, a Calgarian with a big heart and an even bigger passion for helping animals. Her goal has been to help low-income and struggling pet-owners provide the best care for their furry friends.
David grew up on a farm outside of Calgary and told INN24 that even as a kid she took in strays with her dad and took care of them. She volunteered at local vet clinics for many years until she finally decided to open Parachutes for Pets.
“I kept hearing news stories from humane societies about animals being found in poor health,” David explained. “One day, I was on my lunch break and I heard a story on the news about a local pet store where a dog was dropped off and left by the owner. The dog was picked up by the humane society but had to be euthanized because it was in such poor health.” This story brought David to tears.
“I thought, well someone needs to do something and maybe it should be me since I’m so passionate about it,” she added.
The charity is 100% donation based and uses the money it raises to assist pet-owners with pet food, vaccine and wellness clinics, grooming, and other veterinary care.
The volunteers deliver hampers full of pet essentials such as a 30-day supply of food, treats, and based on what the individual needs, they can also provide pet beds, collars, leashes, boots, coats, and more.
One client, a chocolate lab named Charlie, received help from the charity up until his owner was able to get back on his feet. Now, Charlie and his owner help deliver hampers to other pets in need.
Photo of Charlie with his hamper goodies. (Photo courtesy of Melissa David).
The team delivers hampers to homeless people with pets, senior citizens, individuals escaping domestic violence with pets, and other individuals in need.
“A lot of times when domestic abuse victims leave they don’t have the means to help the pet and leave it behind,” David stated. “We work with partnering agencies to provide the essentials they need to take that pet with them”.
Another set of clients, Taco and Peppi, received help from the charity for vet care and hampers after their owner suffered an accident and ended up hospitalized.
The impact of COVID-19
When the COVID-19 lockdown started in Canada in March 2020, there was an even greater need for hampers. “We went from 50 to 75 hampers a month up to 600,” David said.
As some people lost their jobs due to the pandemic, it became increasingly difficult to provide the care needed for their pets. With lockdowns and restrictions in place, many people turned to their pets for comfort.
Volunteers helping sort hampers before a Christmas delivery. (Photo courtesy of Melissa David).
One family found themselves at a crossroads when their cat, Nala, suffered a fracture to her pelvis while playing and required expensive surgery.
When Shannon Miller phoned Parachutes for Pets, David said Miller was “in tears and just broken down,” something that is not uncommon to occur at the charity.
“She told me her son, who was 17 at the time, had been diagnosed with cancer and her 14-year-old was very devastated and suffering from the effects of COVID-19 and anxiety. His cat Nala was his number one thing,” David explained.
When Nala became injured, the family was worried they would have to euthanize her as both parents had lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and were struggling financially. The news affected the family’s younger son in particular, who found comfort in his beloved pet during the difficult time.
“It was quite a large vet bill,” David explained. She put out a plea to her followers who donated money and soon enough they were able to raise the amount needed for Nala’s surgery. As a result, the family has been able to continue living with their pet.
The impact of the charity
Parachutes for Pets has made an extremely positive impact on many pet-owners and has touched the hearts of many. In fact, David explained that many kids have even written letters to the charity.
“Around Christmas we received letters from children asking to keep their pets instead of wishes from Santa. One girl asked for a winter coat for her dog because they were being evicted and had to live in their car. She was worried her dog would be cold,” David explained.
Santa Paws helps make deliveries during Christmas (Photo courtesy of Melissa David).
The charity has been working hard to keep pets cared for, healthy, and safe. They wish to expand all across Canada and to help struggling pet-owners keep their pets.
“It’s heartbreaking to think there have been so many kids that have experienced this with no help.”For more information on how you can make a contribution to help pets in need, you can visit the Parachutes for Pets official website.
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