Organization aims to keep people with their pets

Helping Pets: Kelly MacQuarrie poses for a photo during a Zoom call interview on Jan. 20, 2022. MacQuarrie handles communications and administrations for Parachutes for Pets, an organization that helps pet owners in need. (Photo by Katie Lloyd/The Press)

Parachutes for Pets is a Calgary based organization that helps low-income families and people in need care for their pets. They provide services including a pet food bank and accessible hampers, vaccine and wellness clinics, grooming assistance and emergency pet packs.

“Our main objective is to keep people with their pets,” said Kelly MacQuarrie, who does communication and administration for Parachutes for Pets.

In partnership with Calgary Flames centre player, Mikael Backlund, Parachutes for Pets started its program, Lily’s Legacy.

“Lily’s Legacy program is keeping children that are going into foster care with their pets,” said MacQuarrie.

“It’s named after his dog that passed away because he wanted to help our organization.”

Since Jan. 1, 2021, Parachutes for Pets has given out 10,782 pet food hampers, 1,029 homeless pet packs, has helped 241 veterinary patients, helped 71 foster children through Lily’s Legacy, and aided pets and owners in 476 domestic violence cases.

“I would say pet food hampers by far [is the most used]. We’ve handed out almost 11,000 pet food hampers in a year,” said MacQuarrie.

“If we had more funds, I think veterinary care would be our biggest one, but we’re a smaller organization and we just can’t afford to help every single case that comes in.”

Parachutes for Pets does many fundraisers to keep the programs going, as well as relies on donations from the community, which the pandemic has had an impact on.

“I would say that it’s more of a struggle for donations because people are hurting,” said MacQuarrie.

“The amount of requests has gone way up.”

Organizations like Parachutes for Pets are able to provide people with opportunities, such as to keep their pets, that traditional animal shelters are unable to provide.

“If someone calls us to say ‘hey I can’t afford my pets, I need to surrender them,’ we’ll give them a call back and we’ll have that very open-ended conversation with them,” said Johnston.

“We educate them and say ‘here’s a couple of resources that you can access prior to surrendering.’ People are pretty thrilled to hear it, and then they’re excited to call that organization and see if they might qualify for it.”

Our main objective is to keep people with their pets. – Kelly MacQuarrie

“It offers those resources and opportunities for people to have access to the things that they need for their pets,” said Sally Johnston, manager of animal operations at the Calgary Humane Society.

In the future, Parachutes for Pets hopes to be able to do more to help the homeless community care for their pets.

“Melissa’s, [founder of Parachutes for Pets], dream is to have homeless shelters that are pet friendly,” said MacQuarrie.

“She feels that that’s a barrier to people getting help, so that’s, that’s our ultimate goal.”

About Katie Lloyd 2 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Katie Lloyd is working as a writer for The Press during the 2021-22 academic year.