A look at Southern Ontario Animal Rescue (SOAR)
KJ Mullins-Toronto: Eight years ago Jan Potter Paquete opened Southern Ontario Animal Rescue (SOAR) , a registered charity, after years of volunteering in animal rescue. Her love of dogs shines through with the work she and her group does with animals that no one else wants.
Paquete adopted her first rescue dog, Daytona in May 2000 after a battle with cancer. That same year the cancer returned and Daytona stayed by her side through the long treatment process. In 2001 Paquete lost the use of her right arm and hand because of radiation treatments and was unable to return to her job in the business world. She often jokes that she works much harder than she did before but the results are much more rewarding. That was when she started planning for SOAR.
Recently an Ontario woman who owned a rescue was arrested and sentenced to jail time for cruelty to animals. Paquete said the woman had asked to be part of SOAR’s transport group and was denied. “SOAR has very high standards for our volunteers. We require police checks and have solid guidelines for how we treat our animals. These dogs have been through hell and back. We make sure that they are treated with dignity.”
Paquete brought a business sense to the newly formed non-profit incorporated organization. She knew it would be run as a business rather the way some of the other rescue she had seen. Many of Ontario rescues are a ‘fly by night’ operation. In Ontario there is no rescue guidelines, something that Paquete would like to see change.
“We need to have an umbrella organization to show the public which rescues have guidelines and standards,” Paquete said during a phone interview. “You see rescue in the name and you assume you can trust those in charge. Rescue fly by nights give the ones of us who are doing good work a bad name.”
SOAR is a little different than other local animal rescues by taking in dogs that no one else will take. The group fosters and boards about 25 dogs each year and is always looking for new foster families. Paquete says that for families that want to have a pet but may not be able to afford one fostering is a great alternative.
“We give our foster families training that helps our dogs move into a forever family, although some of the dogs can not be placed in homes with other pets,” Paquete explained adding that with the rehabilitation that SOAR dogs often require the foster process is longer than most. “We have had many of the dogs adopted by their foster families. This is great for the dog but we then lose a great foster home. We are always looking for more fosters so that we can rescue more dogs.” SOAR’s foster families are provided food and vet care for their animals.
In the eight years of operation only 3 dogs have had to be euthanized. One of the dogs developed kidney failure and the decision to end its life was due to quality of life. The other two dogs were unable to be rehabilitated. “There have been two dogs that were simply too animal and human aggressive. They were dangerous animals but we did everything we could to rehabilitate them before they were euthanized. When it came to that time we feed them a Big Mac dinner (it’s one of their favorites) before going to the vet. We never left them alone during the process and afterwards their ashes were put into urns that we have and treasure. These animals were thrown away in life by their former owners but they will not be thrown away in death.”
Running SOAR is expensive. It costs on average $30 a day per dog. Without discounts from their treasured vets, food providers and volunteers the group would be in dire straits. In 2010 SOAR had $87K through donations and other forms of revenue and $86K in expenses. All of those involved are volunteers. The administration costs in 2012 was under $3,000. The vast majority of the costs are from food and boarding ($35K) and medical expenses($22K).
Each adoption has a fee of $375. SOAR as a practice does not adopt dogs out to homes with children under the age of 10.
In 2012 nine of of the 25 dogs in the rescue were adopted out. Because of their special needs it takes longer for SOAR animals to find the perfect home as the group takes special care with each placement. The goal is to make sure that each dog goes to a forever home and that they will not be put back into the system.
Paquete said that SOAR is always in need of donations which can be made through PayPal on their website.