Community Papers

Making a difference: Puppies paw way into volunteer's heart

Ranette Thorpe out for a stroll with Bud, a two-year-old mixed breed who is great with kids but not other dogs and is looking for a forever home.  - Joe Fries/Western News
Ranette Thorpe out for a stroll with Bud, a two-year-old mixed breed who is great with kids but not other dogs and is looking for a forever home.
— image credit: Joe Fries/Western News

Little did Ranette Thorpe know when she began seeking out canine companionship last year that she would quickly become one of the most dedicated volunteers at the local animal shelter.

The 36-year-old began walking dogs at the South Okanagan-Similkameen branch of the B.C. SPCA in June 2013 after her own dog had to be put down.

“We weren’t ready to get another dog, but I missed the interaction with the animals, so I was coming down to walk and enjoy them, and I was having so much fun doing it that it has just sort of progressed into being here daily, sometimes twice a day,” said Thorpe, who’s married with two feline “fur kids.”

She now puts in 15 to 20 hours a week at the shelter, where she helps organize events, co-ordinates other volunteers, walks dogs and helps out wherever else she’s needed, plus fosters pooches at her home.

“I get my puppy fix that way with no commitment,” Thorpe said with a laugh.

“There have been a couple that I thought, ‘This could be my dog,’ but they ended up getting adopted.”

The highlight of her time at the Penticton SPCA shelter was watching the recovery and eventual adoption of six of 16 badly neglected dogs that were brought to the shelter in February after being rescued from a property near Clearwater.

“They were terrified when they got here and they didn’t want anything to do with people,” she said.

“It was very upsetting when they first came in.”

Multiple lowlights have been seeing the return of adopted animals, like Bud, a two-year-old mixed breed who was picked up as a stray and surrendered by owners who previously took him from the SPCA.

He’s now looking for a new forever home.

Branch manager Corrine Ross said Thorpe has also found a home at the SCPA, where she’s become an indispensable part of the group.

“She’s a huge asset to the society, as (volunteers) all are,” said Ross.

“She’s amazing. She’s just a real personable person as well, so she gets on with everybody. She’s part of our team.”

More importantly, Ross noted, “the dogs adore her.”

Thorpe said prospective volunteers don’t have to necessarily adore animals to help out the SPCA, since people can also devote time to events like open houses or fundraisers.

“There are lots of different ways you can support, without actually having to spend two hours a day at the shelter.”

She added, though, that “there’s always something to do here.”


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