imagine.change.is more than just Ricoh’s tagline. It’s the ethos that our employees embody so that they can focus their imaginative thinking to drive change. Over the next few months, we’ll be featuring a series of articles about Ricoh employees who have actively changed their communities, teams, and workplace for the better. We consider them to be the true Ricoh Change Makers.
This week we’re wrapping up our Change Maker series with two employees who both have a passion for helping dogs. After receiving help from three animal rescue organizations, Nicole Cottrell and Glen Jace were motivated to do more for these animals and the people who bring them into their families.
A bond without borders
After the loss of her 14-year old lab in 2019, Nicole was introduced to DIBS (Dogs in Better Spots), an organization dedicated to placing homeless, abused and abandoned dogs from Mexico in forever homes here in Canada. Despite the pain of losing Zoey, it wasn’t long before Nicole and her husband Ian were ready to bring another dog into their lives.
“We always knew we’d get another dog, and we only lasted a few weeks before our hearts were bursting with love to give. For us, our dogs are a huge part of our family unit.”
They searched the site and almost instantly found their girl: Dixie Belle. DIBS worked closely with Nicole and the dog shelter in Mexico to arrange for the adoption and her journey to Canada.
While Nicole found her Dixie Belle online, Glen found puppy love in person. On a trip to Cuba with his fiancée, he came across a pair of homeless dogs. Unfortunately, because of the country’s lack of veterinary care and animal shelters, the dogs were in poor health, particularly Luna. Glen knew immediately he wanted to help her (along with the companion who never left her side).
“We decided we would do anything to adopt her… [but] we couldn’t separate them, so we decided to adopt them both.”
In a time of need
Both Glen and Nicole were inspired to volunteer for the very organizations that supported them in their time of need.
For Nicole, it was Lost Paws Inc. an organization that provided search and recovery of lost dogs across southern Ontario. A few days after Dixie Belle had settled into her new home, she spooked and ran away. After a harrowing week-long search with exhaustive efforts, resources and volunteers, Dixie Belle was reunited with her family. Having experienced the impact this had on her, Nicole remained close with the founders and began volunteering her time with both Lost Paws Inc and DIBS.
“Everything I was given: all the people, all the help, all the resources, all the support from businesses [and police] and strangers, I had about 200 volunteers – after getting all of that, you must give it back. You must.”
Unlike the outpouring of support Nicole received from her local community and various animal rescue agencies; Glen was faced with a severe lack of resources. Unfortunately, in Cuba animal shelters and dog adoption organizations are few and far between – and even considered illegal.
At the time, online searches for dog adoption in Cuba yielded no results. It wasn’t until the very end of his trip that he stumbled across a Facebook group called APAC (All People for Animals in Cuba).
Sadly, in the time it took to organize the adoption, Luna had passed away. But, with the help of APAC, Glen was able to secure Dom and bring him back to Canada, saying, “Once we got him to Canada, we knew we wanted to be part of the group – we didn’t want other people to go through the same experience we did.”
Volunteering for change
As two marketing professionals, Glen and Nicole knew their professional skills could help with each organization’s mission. “I have a marketing and e-commerce background, so I reached out and they gladly welcomed me to the team,” said Glen. Since volunteering with APAC, he has taken on the task of building a new website and making sure the e-commerce site allows for online donations. Now, when somebody wants to find out about animal adoption in Cuba, they can do a search and APAC will be one of the very first results.
APAC’s motto is “We Are the Change” and there’s no better ambassador of this message than a Change Maker like Glen. The team has big goals, and they aren’t just stopping at improving animal adoption processes in Cuba, “We want to create laws, so animals have rights.”
After the relief and joy Nicole experienced from being reunited with Dixie, she knew she wanted to be part of changing the outcome for other families. Since her own experience, she’s been donating her time to lost dog search and recovery in Ontario with Lost Paws Inc and providing preventative education and search and recovery services to DIBS Rescue as well as fostering and adopting another DIBS dog, Georgia Boo! Though Lost Paws had to close recently, Nicole and Ian continue to serve the Niagara and Halton regions independently and keep in close contact with their former team. The reward of returning a lost dog goes both ways for her, “It’s been amazing to contribute to both of those organizations and participate in these searches – to help people feel that same relief and joy and give them back a huge part of their heart that they lost.”
When she thinks about what it means to inspire change in others, Nicole says, “it doesn’t have to be a lifelong thing or an investment of 90% of your time, or even adopting a dog. It can be small; it can be giving 10 minutes or $10. There’s a lot of ways to contribute and be a change maker. I hope this piece motivates even one person to get involved.”
If you’d like to volunteer or learn more about animal adoption or lost dog search and recovery, please visit the links below:
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