Caring for injured, neglected and abandoned animals – it’s all in a day’s work for the staff at Meet the KeepersAt Meet the Keepers, hard work is just a part of a normal day, but so are pig snuggles, puppy kisses, parrot nuzzles, and tarantula tickles. To Janie Cyr and Kyle Lawrie, each rescue is worth the time and the effort. Cyr and Lawrie met while working at a zoo, and founded Meet the Keepers when they decided they wanted to shift their focus to animal rehabilitation.
In 2016, Cyr and Lawrie opened a wildlife rescue centre outside of Ottawa where they can house over 70 animals in comfort, offering medical care, enrichment, and love. Animals come to the facility in a variety of ways. Some are rescued by The Keepers, like in cases of neglected or abandoned pets; others are surrendered by their owners when they can’t care for them. Still others come via another rescue organization, or through the OSPCA or the Ministry of Natural Resources.
Regardless of their origin, The Keepers give the animals a home while they are rehabilitated from injury, illness, or other circumstances. Most move on to long-term homes – wilder ones to wildlife sanctuaries, domestic animals to private homes. The Keepers have even re-released 163 animals into the wild. In most cases, finding a permanent home isn’t hard. “We share the stories about the animals from the beginning to the end [on Facebook],” says Cyr, “so people get a chance to bond with them.” When an animal goes home with a new owner, The Keepers make sure it’s the right fit, and they follow up to offer continued support.
Animal rehabilitation is only a part of the work that Meet the Keepers does. Cyr and Lawrie give presentations at museums, schools, and other venues, to spread their message of respect for animals. They host special events that provide an experience where people of all ages can interact with animals and learn about their needs. The Keepers also promote the conservation efforts of other organizations. Lastly, they offer tours of their rescue facility by appointment.
In their presentations, The Keepers tell the stories of some of the rescues. “The animals have been through a journey,” she says, “so we hit every emotion in the book.” The stories help people to connect with the organization’s mission. Take, for example, Chester, the 10-year-old coatimundi. Coatimundi are a South American animal related to raccoons. Her original owners kept her as a pet, but they didn’t know much about her – not even her age, or that she was a female. In the wild, coatimundi use their long claws to climb trees, but when Chester started tearing up the furniture, her owners decided to declaw her. They couldn’t ask a vet to do it, because the coatimundi was an illegal pet, so they did it themselves, removing her toes in the process. It was in that state that she found her way into the care of The Keepers. Since coming to their facility, Chester has made a good recovery.
Cyr offers some advice for anyone considering a pet: “Do your research.” She says social media encourages people to keep exotic pets or other animals that aren’t suitable for their lifestyle. “People see cute videos of these animals and want to acquire them,” says Cyr, adding that without the right education, people don’t realize that some animals make better pets than others. By working to educate children and adults, Meet the Keepers hopes to spread a message of respect for all animals and keep making a difference, one rescue at a time.
Learn more about Meet the Keepers