Collecting for the cause of paws

Cathy Baillie, right, has started collecting for Empties for Paws, an effort to raise funds by donating bottle deposit proceeds to animal charities. Baillie is joined by her husband, Cameron Whitehead, their daughter Lily and Max the Boston Terrier. DEREK SWARTZ PHOTO


Empties for Paws collects to benefit animal charities

Special to the VOICE

It isn’t hard to see Cathy Baillie’s fondness for Boston Terriers.

While Max, her older Boston, gobbles up kibble and Boston-cross Swagger gnaws on a rawhide bone, she shares a family heirloom: a shadow box showcasing ribbons won by her great-great-grandmother from the Boston Terrier Club of Toronto and the Boston Terrier Club of Canada.

The ribbons date back to the 1920s and were won by Little Miss Toots. Max and Swagger may not rival Little Miss Toots for best in show. But they may have a lasting impact on the welfare of Bostons and other animals.

And that’s down to their effect on Baillie. That impact began more than a decade ago when Baillie got Max while living in Toronto. She joined a group of Boston owners who got together in local parks to let their dogs socialize. Eventually Baillie started volunteering for a Boston Terrier rescue group.

It was there that she heard about Empties for Paws. Empties for Paws is an association of concerned animal lovers that collects refundable containers—beer, liquor and wine bottles—and donates the proceeds to animal-friendly charities. In addition to empty alcohol containers, volunteers with Empties for Paws accept Canadian Tire money. The effort started in 2015, and to date the organization says it has collected more than $325,000.

When Baillie moved to Fonthill to take a job as an organization development and learning coordinator at Niagara College, she knew she wanted to do something to keep helping Bostons. So she decided to bring the Empties for Paws program to Pelham. “It’s an easy way to do something, and I always want to be helping animals,” she says.

Empties for Paws has volunteers in dozens of towns and cities across Ontario. Each volunteer collects and returns the empties and then donates the proceeds to a registered charity. Baillie’s is Boston Terrier Rescue Canada. The charity cares for abandoned, neglected and abused Bostons and provides medical care, training and a safe haven. BTRC’s goal is to place each dog with a permanent, loving home through a careful adoption process. The funds are sorely needed by Boston Terrier Rescue Canada. Their vet bills alone topped $90,000 in 2018.

Baillie knows the adoption process firsthand—it’s how she acquired Swagger. She had been fostering him when he was a puppy, born to a Boston that had been rescued from a Montreal animal shelter. When it came time to put him up for adoption she just couldn’t part with him.

Along with her husband, Cameron Whitehead, and their three-and-a-half year-old daughter, Lily, Baillie is always looking for ways to turn small actions she’s already doing into something bigger to benefit charities, like using supermarket loyalty program points to buy food for local food banks.

She wants to get others involved with Empties for Paws.

“We’ll enjoy a bottle of wine and Cameron will have a few beers, but that’s only a couple of bucks a month [for charity],” she says.

Even if potential donors don’t want to drop off their empties to Baillie, she encourages them to donate their refund money to a charity of their choice.

“We’re just trying to get the word out. Donate to the cause or donate to your own cause, the Heart and Stroke Foundation or the Legion’s poppy fund.”

“You don’t miss the money because you’ve spent it already,” she says. “Why not just redirect it?”

Anyone who wants to donate their empties can drop them off to the collection boxes they have set up outside their home at 1556 Pelham Street. Baillie and Whitehead are also willing to pick up larger quantities of beer, wine and liquor bottles.

Some Empties for Paws volunteers have collection arrangements with local restaurants. Baillie would love to duplicate that in Pelham. Anyone interested should email [email protected]


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