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Rebecca Oxford
Supporter of SPCA St. John’s

Rebecca struggles with depression. When she moved to St. John’s to complete her nursing degree, she started volunteering at the SPCA St. John’s because “animals always have unconditional love and I needed it for self-care.”

Rebecca volunteered with the dogs at the shelter and arrived for her shift one day to find all the dogs excited to get attention and be let out – except Sammy. He was in the back of his kennel; he didn’t come when called and was uninterested in everything.

Rebecca knew Sammy needed help. She sat in the kennel with him for 30 minutes before he approached her and eventually sat on her lap. After she had left, the shelter called saying Sammy hadn’t stopped crying for her and how unusual that was because he hadn’t showed interest in anyone


Sammy required a lot of rehabilitation before he would be adoptable. He came from an abusive home, never had dog food - was fed scraps from neighbors, didn’t understand dog toys or what stairs were. Although Rebecca was wary of the commitment, she decided to foster Sammy.

While in Rebecca’s care, Sammy progressed quickly. More surprisingly, Rebecca noticed she was improving too, getting out of bed earlier and even exercising. Before University she was hospitalized and now Sammy and the SPCA St. John’s helped her feel better. Sammy supported her during panic attacks – he would break through her arms to kiss her face. She adopted Sammy saying, “he has been my rock, just sitting next to me on my worst days has changed my life and gives me hope, I wouldn’t have been able to get this far without him.”

The St. John Ambulance posted an ad for a therapy dog and knowing how good Sammy was with her she signed him up. He passed the evaluation with flying colors. Sammy now visits seniors, children, individuals with disabilities. He is great around wheelchairs, bed visits, and even shaky hands - he sits on laps and allows people to pet him. Rebecca says that “Sometimes you just need someone to believe in you”.

“SPCA St. John’s is so important because they legit saves dogs lives from neglect and allow dogs a second or third chance to live their best lives,” added Rebecca.  “I can’t imagine if they weren’t there to give Sammy a second chance and that he was still being abused.”

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Donna Matchim, Kira Matchim
Support of SPCA St. John's

Bob Matchim went to the SPCA to find a companion, and instantly gravitated to Miguel, a big gray and white tom cat. Miguel was a difficult cat and had already been rehomed several times. But Bob assured staff that he would provide a good home and since he lived alone it may be easier for the cat to adjust. Bob’s granddaughter Kira went with him to bring Miguel home, and surmised that Miguel seemed “scared mean” not “mean, mean”. Kira renamed him Bud, and they began their new life together.

“If anything happens to me, will you look after my cat?” Bob asked his granddaughter. “I will, Pop,” she replied.

Sadly, less then a year later Bob passed away.

“A promise is a promise,” Kira and her parents said. And grumpy, growly Bud moved in with the family’s other pets, Maggie a Shiz Tzu and fellow SPCA adoptee Tish the cat. It was a challenge. The cats got into brutal fights and Maggie was terrified of Bud. It was not just the animals that were intimidated, and Bud was practically untouchable by anyone but Kira.

Bud was depressed and nervous in his new home. To help him feel comfortable, they let Bud go at his own pace. Kira slept on the couch to build his trust, and eventually he started sleeping with her and transitioned to sleeping in the bedroom.

Since then, Bud has come a long way. His favorite spot to nap is the bathroom sink, and Bud was recently seen asleep on the same couch as the dog, which seemed impossible when he first moved in. Bud cries for Kira when she leaves for work but has warmed up to her parents. He comes when Donna calls him for treats and sometimes allows her to pick him up. He no longer growls or hisses when someone comes near. It has been quite a year, but life is much more peaceful today. It was a very rocky start, but patience and love are winning.

Having Bud is a reminder of the happy times she had with her grandfather and of all the things he did for her. She is thankful that she can repay his love by keeping her promise, and Bud seems thankful too. Mr. Matchim would be proud!

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Kayla Cooper
Owner -Vanity Fur Grooming
Supporter of SPCA St. John’s

It was a cat hoarding situation, so no one expected a dog. But there was Cecil, alone in a box, his fur matted and covered in feces. The smell was almost unbearable. And Cecil was scared.

When someone takes in more animals than they can properly care for, it is called animal hoarding. It is a complex issue, and there are usually underlying mental health issues. Most hoarders truly believe they are helping. They bring home animals in need, sometimes failing to realize the animal is pregnant or has health issues. Litters are born, more animals are brought home and the numbers climb quickly until the situation spirals out of control. Despite their good intentions, animal hoarders’ own troubles can blind them to the animals’ suffering. It’s a heartbreaking situation.

Kayla Cooper is a Seal Cove groomer who often donates her time to the SPCA. When Cecil was found three years ago, she provided services to the 11-year-old dog. She began to shave him and discovered chicken wire embedded in his fur. When she was done, it was obvious how emaciated the malnourished dog had become.

A cat lover who already had two rescue cats, Kayla immediately fell for the dog. “When I met Cecil that day,” she says, “it was love at first sight.”

Cecil went to a foster home, but Kayla kept in contact with his fosterer through texts and photos. She would tell her husband about the dog who had a hold on her heart. And then, on her 29th birthday, Kayla’s husband surprised her with Cecil. “I cried happy tears—we could give Cecil the home and love he truly deserved.”

Now Cecil is a mellow dog living his best retirement life. “If he could drink Tetley tea, he would,” Kayla laughs, adding they have nicknamed him “Unicorn” because he seems magical and can read her mood. “If I’m excited, he’s prancing around. If I’m sad or having a hard day, he’s right there, cuddled into me. He is the sunshine to my mornings. I thank the Regional SPCA St. John’s for allowing Cecil to be a part of our family.”

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