This article appeared in the Jan. 17, 2018 issue of the Interlake Enterprise…
The dogs get to go out for coffee and car rides, and ladies come to the shelter with books and read to the cats. Mothers bring their children there to play.
Such is the atmosphere at the Gimli Humane Society (GHS) since Cindi Salamandyk and Brian Derby, animal control bylaw officers, took over operations in 2004 after retiring and moving to Gimli from Winnipeg.
“We’ve always had animals and volunteered all of our lives,” said Salamandyk. “This is our passion. The opportunity came up and we jumped on it right away.”
In every way, Salamandyk and Derby go the extra mile to make life good for the animals under their care, and work hard to keep them out of the pound in the first place by going door to door, at times, in an effort to locate the owners of lost pets. All of the dogs that had resided at the shelter for between two and six years, were all adopted out within six months of the couple taking the helm.
Is it any wonder that GHS just won a 2017 Rescue of Choice Award?
GHS was one of three recipients of a top tier award, which came with a $2,000 donation. The award is given out by the Winnipeg-based Laing Family Foundation to the top ranking animal rescues and shelters in Manitoba. It takes into consideration all of an organization’s animal welfare projects throughout the year.
Three rescue organizations received the top tier awards of $2,000, while 11 received awards of $1,000 each last year.
Salamandyk and Derby were completely taken by surprise when they received the news, and even more surprised that they beat out some of Manitoba’s larger rescue organizations.
“This is really huge. We can really use this money,” Salamandyk said.
“We’re hoping to do some changes to the shelter to make it more inviting, and possibly some renovations to house more cats, she said.
They also plan to purchase litter, food and cover some of the veterinary costs with the money.
“We like to keep it a surprise,” said Jasmine Allen, Executive Director of the Laing Family Foundation.
“The biggest thing we look at is the amount of animals helped, how money is spent, and the rescue’s willingness to work with other groups in Manitoba. Another big factor is how the human volunteers are treated, and how the fosters are treated,” Allen said.
“They are really an amazing group. I hear all the drama behind the scenes and Gimli has never brought any drama,” she added.
Allen explained that the foundation reviews all the Manitoba charitable pet and rescue organizations for a whole year, and decides upon the award recipients in November. Close attention is paid to the organization’s social media presence, said Allen.
GHS is a “no kill’ shelter which relies on donations do do its work. It will take in animals from around the Interlake region, provided they are brought in by the owner, space and resources permitting. In addition, part of their work includes education in the communities.
“We go to schools and give spay and neuter talks,” said Salamandyk.
The building, located in the Gimli Industrial Park, is maintained by the RM of Gimli which pays the taxes and utilities. The pound and humane society are operated out of the same location.
“The RM is really supportive of us in our way of thinking, being more proactive. The mayor and councillors, they’re all wonderful,” said Derby.
Salamandyk and Derby are also appreciative of the community’s support, whether it comes in the form of donations of money and supplies or volunteering to walk the dogs.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank people for donating to the shelter this year, without you we could not continue to function,” said Salamandyk. “Please be assured all your donations are used to provide a safe haven for their animals, a place where they are loved and cared for, as they so rightly deserve.”
GHS has a number of cats, kittens and dogs available for adoption at this time. The charge to adopt is $100 for a cat and $200 for a dog. The fee includes spay or neuter, vaccinations, deworming, and ear mite treatment. The cats are also tested for FIB (feline AIDS).
“They have a clean bill of health. Our cats are loose and playing and having fun. They are well-socialized,” Salamandyk assured.
GHS is a registered non-profit charitable organization. Donation of $20 or more are eligible for a tax receipt. Donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 1999 Gimli, MB, R0C 1B0.