Aiding Animals Simple As A Walk In The Park

By Kim Hughes 9/12/12 |

Comedian Carla Collins with Dr. Zira
Few fundraisers conjure sweetness and seriousness quite like the Toronto Humane Society’s annual Paws in the Park event benefiting the donor-supported, no-kill shelter. So when this year’s host, Carla Collins, cracks that she wants to be “the Angelina Jolie dog of adoptions,” you know the THS has enlisted precisely the right person to convey its complex message.

The Canadian-bred actress/comedian is flying in from her L.A. base specifically for the September 23 event, which marshals pet lovers to raise pledges and walk with their furry friends along Toronto’s Martin Goodman Trail in Ashbridges Bay Park starting at 10 am.

Collins has a long history with the THS, both as a celebrity host/supporter and doggy adopter. So she knows well that the $100,000 goal set for the one-day event — which also commemorates the shelter’s 125th anniversary — will ensure that sick, injured and abandoned animals continue receiving the outstanding interim care and advocacy that is the THS’s hallmark.

“They really do such amazing work,” Collins tells Samaritanmag from L.A., adding that all her dogs, stretching back to her childhood pets in hometown Sault Ste. Marie, came from shelters. “I really do believe that dogs are better than people.

“I have a line in my [standup] routine where I say, ‘Sure I have to pick up after them when I take them for walks, but they never shit all over my dreams.’ So I’ve been involved with the Toronto Humane Society — and Humane Societies across Ontario and beyond — for a very long time.”

That involvement has included the adoption of Buster (“a beautiful Black lab/Bouvier cross”), Big Red (“a crazy, Heinz 57 hound”) and Bugsy (“an older Pug”) from the THS in 1998, 2000 and 2001, respectively. “Everyone who works in these shelters is extraordinary,” Collins says. “They shelter so many creatures and it’s hard to imagine the city without them.”

This year’s Paws in the Park also sees the walk returning to actual terra firma. “Since 2005 there have been virtual walks so people were able to go online and register and raise funds, and then just walk independently in their neighbourhood,” explains event coordinator Rachelle Gordon, stressing that their various sponsors are cornerstone to the event’s success.

“This year everyone is getting together at one location to walk with their dogs at the same time. Prior to 2005, I think the event ran for about 13 consecutive years, so it has a tradition. And Carla is a great presence; fun, funny and she really gets the participants going.”

As for the shelter’s 125th anniversary, Gordon adds, “We feel like this is the best year to re-launch this event because, wow, what a great way to celebrate. One hundred and 25 years is incredible. We have literally helped hundreds of thousands of animals over the years.

“The programs we have in place are important and necessary to the city. We want people to know we are still around and here to help the animals.”

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