One of Atlantic Canada's largest non-profit animal rescue shelters now goes by a different name.
The Greater Moncton SPCA has rebranded to become People for Animal Wellbeing, or PAW.
According to the organization's president, Christian Moger, the move was made to reflect an increased emphasis on community outreach.
"Over the years, we've really evolved in what we do," he said. "We're definitely more than just a shelter. We continue to offer all those shelter services people have come to know and love, but we've developed many more community programs as well."
He said the rebranding process took about two years, and the cost to the organization is not being made public.
Service grew out of pandemic
According to Moger, some programming that was designed to be temporary during the pandemic continues to be in high demand.
With the rebranding, the organization wants to make some of these programs permanent, including pet safekeeping for people staying in shelters to escape domestic violence.
Moger said the confidential program assists victims who may be delaying their decision to leave an abuser because they can't take their pets into a shelter.
"It's a no-questions-asked situation," he said. "We arrange for some sort of transport and safekeeping of their pets until they are able to find themselves a new situation."
Pet Safe Keeping partners with agencies such as Crossroads for Women, which provides shelter and assistance to domestic violence victims in the Moncton region.
Jamie Olsen, a crisis intake worker at Crossroads, called the program "invaluable."
She said many abusers use pets to gain control over their partner.
"People don't realize how animal abuse and domestic violence are intertwined," Olsen said. "We have women that if they know there isn't a safe place for their pet to go, they'll stay because they know something will happen to it."
She said the organization isn't able to accommodate most pets at this time because of space restrictions.
Olsen said more victims are asking about the program now that the word is getting out.
Helps keep pets, families together
Food Bank is a second program born out of the pandemic that PAW will make a permanent fixture as part of its rebranding.
It aims to keep animals with their families by providing free pet food to those in-need throughout southeastern New Brunswick.
"We don't want to be your last resort," said Moger. "We want to be the first place you think of for help. So this is just another example of how we're doing that."
He said with the cost of living steadily climbing, this program will only become more important.
PAW also decided to rebrand to help the organization differentiate itself from other SPCAs in the province. Moger said it's a common misconception that the organizations are associated. He said each SPCA works independently, which can create confusion.
"There was the greater Moncton SPCA, the New Brunswick SPCA, Fredericton SPCA, and Saint John SPCA, which are all doing wonderful work, but they all do different things and they all actually exist as independent organizations," he said. "The brand change really allows us to be viewed as an individual organization."
Not all SPCAs in the province are willing to rebrand because of potential confusion. Annette James, the executive director of the Fredericton SPCA, acknowledged the challenge but said the organization has other priorities at this time.
According to James, the Fredericton SPCA has an education plan that in part works to differentiate the provincial group as the enforcement piece for animal abuse and the others as independent shelters.
She said the partnership is essential.
"We lean on one another," she said. "If they have to do a seizure, it's the shelters that house those animals that come out of those situations."
The Fredericton SPCA also has community outreach. Some of its programs include school education and donations to local food banks.