An unlikely team, perhaps, but a group of rescued animals dubbed the “A-team” is having a positive impact through community outreach events in Muskoka.
Niles, an Indian Ringneck Parakeet, and Joey, a Cockatiel, were the first to join the team. They were brought to the Ontario SPCA Muskoka Animal Centre together a number of years ago and are best friends. They were adopted once, but their adopter returned Joey after a few days. Separated, the birds were miserable without each other, and Niles was soon returned as well. The birds settled in well at the centre, so the staff decided to keep them together and use them for outreach in their community.
“[Niles] finds the outings very exciting, he loves the attention, especially from children,” says Jane McCamus, Muskoka Animal Centre Manager.
The latest addition to the team is Skittles, an approximately eight-year-old Guinea Pig surrendered to the animal centre in June, 2017. Because she was blind, the staff did their best to set up her cage the way it had always been, so she would be as comfortable as possible. Sadly, potential adopters passed Skittles by due to her age. However, she won over the hearts of the Animal Centre staff.
“She’s turned out to be a little charmer!” says Jane.
Skittles is fantastic with children, and loves being pet and cuddled. She has her very own basket she likes to travel in, which allows younger children to pet her without picking her up. Now whenever children come into the centre with donations, their photo is taken with the photogenic Skittles.
“She kind of worked her way into being a superstar,” Jane says.
Finally, Misty Jean is the canine component to the team. At 15 years old, she’s a calming presence for children during school visits. Misty Jean came into the centre through an investigation and was adopted by one of the staff who cared for her.
The A-team can often be found visiting Kindergarten and Grade 1 classes in Muskoka. They bring animal welfare to life for children and everyone else they meet .
“When the kids meet any animal from the A-team they’re very excited.” Jane says, “It speaks to the value of the relationship between animals and people.”
People interested in booking the “A-team” for school visits, children’s groups, office visits and the like can contact the Ontario SPCA Muskoka Animal Centre for more information: (705) 645-6225.