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Press releases

$74,904 PetSmart Charities® of Canada Grant to HBSPCA Funds Access to Basic Veterinary Care


Hamilton, ON (November 25, 2020) – Life continues to get better for cats and their families every day in Hamilton.  PetSmart Charities of Canada has granted $74,904 to the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA (HBSPCA) to help chronically under-resourced pets and their people access basic veterinary care.

“We are humbled by the trust PetSmart Charities of Canada has in the HBSPCA Team for 6 years now to keep pets and their people together,” says Marion Emo, CEO. “This year, the grant will fund access to affordable spay/neuter surgeries, and health and wellness clinics for vulnerable pets in partnership with social service agencies in Hamilton. Proactive and preventative care for pets prevents illness and disease, reduces costs and keeps pets at home where they belong.”

“HBSPCA has proven to be a trusted community ally, and we are proud to once again partner to provide vital resources to pets in need,” said Dani LaGiglia, regional relationship manager at PetSmart Charities of Canada. “The organization’s holistic approach and collaborative efforts will continue to remove the barriers to affordable pet health and wellness care throughout Hamilton and surrounding communities.” While pets and people together are a wellness combination, PetSmart Charities of Canada has long recognized the variety of barriers to accessible veterinary care in Canadian communities including but not limited to language, culture, poverty, or access to transportation.

Food bank usage in Hamilton reflects poverty. The 2019 Hunger Report (Feed Ontario) showed Hamilton having the 2nd highest food bank usage per capita in all of Ontario in 2018 with 12,300 (12 in every 100) people making 111,828 food bank visits. That same report shows, for Hamilton, that ODSP income was $486 less than the monthly Market Basket Measure and that Ontario Works income was $922 less than the same measure. Little has changed and the Times of COVID have exasperated pet families’ situations.

“Although some say that people should have pets only if they can meet their full cost of care,” reflects Karen Reichheld, Senior Manager, Animal Care, “we know that animals make a difference in people’s health and well-being every day.  There are people who get up every morning because they have a pet companion who is their best friend. Isolated seniors agree to hospital care only when their pet companions are fostered and provided basic veterinary care. And the relationships between differently abled persons and horses are restorative. Pets and people are a healing combination”.

The grant will subsidize co-pay spay/neuter surgeries and health and wellness clinics commencing June 2021.

Contact information: Marion Emo, CEO. 905-574-7722 ext. 310.

About the Hamilton-Burlington SPCA

The Hamilton/Burlington SPCA (HBSPCA) keeps pets and their people together, helps pet owners be the pet parents they want to be and rehomes neglected and abandoned animals for second chance lives.

Charitable Registration # 11923 6750 RR0001




About PetSmart Charities® of Canada

PetSmart Charities® of Canada is committed to finding lifelong, loving homes for all pets by supporting programs and thought leadership that bring people and pets together. Through its in-store adoption program in all PetSmart® stores across Canada, PetSmart Charities of Canada helps to find forever homes and families for more than 30,000 shelter pets each year. PetSmart Charities of Canada also provides grant funding to registered Canadian charities aligned with its mission. Each year, more than 500,000 generous PetSmart shoppers help pets in need by donating to PetSmart Charities of Canada using the PIN pads at checkout registers inside PetSmart stores. In turn, PetSmart Charities of Canada efficiently uses more than 90 cents of every dollar donated to fulfill its role as a leading funder of animal welfare in Canada, granting more than $21.7 million since its inception in 1999. PetSmart Charities of Canada is a registered Canadian charity, a member of Imagine Canada and is independent from the PetSmart business in Canada. To learn more visit

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With your help, we can raise $15,000 in 24 hours for street cats.

What’s a street cat? Typically they’re lost or abandoned strays that find a colony of cats to live with. They can also be born on the streets, making them feral which means they have little to no experience interacting with people. Feral cats are hard to adopt and find forever homes for.

Why do cats group together? Cats will gather around a food source and sometimes a shelter forming a colony, complete with a hierarchy. Most times a colony consists of 3-6 cats, but can be as large as 20 or more! In 2020, the Hamilton Community Cat Network (HCCN), registered colony caregivers, volunteers, local vet clinics and the HBSPCA helped over 600 cats receive TNVR services. There are still hundreds more in need of care.

Who takes care of street cats? Sometimes nobody. However, there are over 100 registered Colony Caregivers that provide food and shelter to community cats. They get to know each cat’s behavior and mannerisms, sometimes making it easier to detect changes and possible illness. Although food is often donated to the HBSPCA for the caregivers, there’s a cost per cat for TNVR (Trap, Neuter Vaccinate, & Return) services.

What’s included in TNVR services?

  • Safe and humane trapping of a community cat
  • Food & shelter while in HBSPCA care
  • Spay/Neuter surgery by a registered Veterinarian
  • Microchip implantation
  • Rabies vaccination
  • Ear tip procedure
  • Safe and humane return of a community cat
  • Hours of attention, dedication and patience!

Our Giving Tuesday goal is to raise $15,000 in 24 hours.

A donation of $50 will fund the caregiver cost and provide a weeks’ worth of food for a small cat colony. Help contribute to TNVR services to reduce the amount of cats born to the streets, and bettering the lives of those that consider the outdoors their home.

We invite you to join us next Tuesday, December 1st for Giving Tuesday.

Together we can make a difference. All for the animals.

Press releases

Leadership Transition at the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA


Hamilton, ON (Monday, November 23, 2020) The Board of Directors of the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA (HBSPCA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Melanie Barlow as incoming President and CEO effective November 30, 2020.

Melanie succeeds Marion Emo who will be leaving her role at the end of November following a remarkable eight-year tenure of building partnerships to support improved access to care and rehoming for animals at risk in our community.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I am delighted to welcome Melanie Barlow as the incoming CEO at the HBSPCA on November 30”, says Kim Ciavarella, Chair. “Melanie’s knowledge of the community we serve, her understanding of vulnerable populations and her program leadership will support HBSPCA’s service to community well into the future”.

“At the same time, we say good-bye to Marion Emo who has led our organization through extraordinary changes in the animal welfare sector locally, provincially, and nationally. Marion’s steadfast leadership has truly reflected the principle of being in service to community. Marion and her extraordinary team of staff and volunteers have expanded access to animal well-being for chronically under-resourced pet families with the support of community partnerships and grants”.

Melanie and Marion will be working closely together over the next while to ensure a smooth transition. Both are committed to engaging staff and stakeholders during leadership change and sustaining service continuity every day.

Melanie was born and raised in Burlington and has been a Hamilton resident for twenty-three years.  With experience in the corporate, education and non-profit sectors her most recent role was as Executive Director at Ancaster Community Services, a local charitable and social services organization. Melanie is a proud owner of an adorable Brussels Griffon.

“I am thrilled to be joining the HBSPCA and to be a part of a community-minded team of staff, volunteers and Board Members. The support that the HBSPCA receives from donors is a testament to the incredible work that is done to support pets and their people and advance a humane community.”

The HBSPCA currently has an active staff of 22 and an annual operating budget of $2.3M. Its Companion Animal Hospital on site at 245 Dartnall Road served more than 6,000 animals last year.

For information contact Marion Emo. CEO. 905-574-7722 ext. 310.


The Hamilton/Burlington SPCA is a donor based charitable and non-profit animal welfare organization. Our mission is keeping pets and people together, supporting pet families and leaving no animal at risk behind. Discover the miracles that happen everyday at

@GivingTuesdayCa is just days away! Be sure to save a little something to donate on Dec 1st. Your donation will change the life of a street cat in Hamilton. Visit our website for full details and stay tuned to our social media channels for more info.…