Remembering the life and legacy of Dave Wilson

by | News |

Life sometimes has a way of forcing reflection when it deals a blow so fierce that it takes your breath away. Today we reflect on the loss of Dr. Dave Wilson, Senior Director of Shelter Health & Wellness with the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society, who passed away unexpectedly last week.

For the past 18 years, Dave has been an integral part of the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society. He started every day with a smile, knowing he was doing his part to make the world a better place for animals.

Dave graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and MSc. in Clinical Toxicology. He spent over a decade working in small animal/mixed private practice before joining the Ontario SPCA. Dave worked through the ranks within the Society, managing an animal centre before eventually becoming the Senior Director of Shelter Health & Wellness.

Dave was truly a pioneer in shelter medicine. Committed to life-long learning, he set out to create a humane and healthy environment for animals in shelters and beyond. Before it was mainstream to consider the emotional and social needs of animals, Dave and his team put these considerations into practice every day at Ontario SPCA animal centres.

Dave also co-authored one of the first manuals of its kind on infectious disease prevention in shelter environments. That work continues to be a resource for shelter professionals around the world through the website, a project that was a great source of pride to Dave.

Dave also made it his mission to inspire others to make a difference for animals. It was a passion he passed on to countless animal care staff and veterinary students who were fortunate enough to have Dave mentor them during their clinical rotations.

Overseeing the health and well-being of thousands of animals in the Ontario SPCA’s 12 animal centres across the province was no small job, but Dave always had time for anyone with a pressing question, or even just a friendly chat. He had a dry sense of humour, matched only by his propensity for button-down shirts – a pen was usually tucked in the breast pocket, just in case.

Outside of work, Dave sang in a choir. He had a lovely voice – unbeknownst to many of his colleagues until a friend shared one of his Christmas songs over the PA system at the Ontario SPCA for all to enjoy, much to Dave’s chagrin.

Dave enjoyed heading to Florida each winter and was planning his sunny escape at the time of his passing. He always made a point of visiting friends down south who raised and trained guide dog puppies, to give them a break from their busy duties. He often joked that he may have “broken” a few of the puppies by playing with them too much instead of focusing on their rigorous training – even Dave couldn’t resist puppies!

So how does an organization honour such a kind, giving man who devoted so much of his life to animals? Finding a meaningful way to remember such an incredible man is a challenge. Dave was a true champion for animals; we can’t say enough to showcase the incredible impact he’s made on animal wellness.

Dave, on behalf of those who can’t speak for themselves, thank you for changing the lives of animals.