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Pegasus Animal Sanctuary struggles to stay afloat during coronavirus pandemic

Pegasus Animal Sanctuary struggles to stay afloat during coronavirus pandemic
WATCH: An animal sanctuary near Port Perry says it's still feeling the effects of the pandemic, despite the gradual reopening of the province. As Aaron Streck reports, it's now trying to get back on track both financially and physically.

An animal sanctuary near Port Perry says it’s still feeling the effects of the pandemic, despite the gradual reopening of the province.

It’s now trying to get back on track both financially and physically.

Last week, Pegasus Animal Sanctuary welcomed a Muscovy duck named Delilah.

While she’s adjusting to her new life, the past several months have been an adjustment period for Jack Hurst.

He co-founded the animal rescue just three years ago.

“You’re dipping into your life savings and you want to make it work and at this point, that’s the challenge,” said Hurst.

Read more: Durham animal sanctuary needs volunteers in order to expand operation

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To keep the operation going, Hurst says it costs between $50,000 and $75,000 a year — a figure he says he hasn’t been hitting since the pandemic started.

Hurst says it’s a combination of donations being down and not being able to generate any revenue with tours and visits due to the pandemic.

In addition to losing money, Hurst says he’s lost half of his volunteers.

“We can’t really take a lot of animals now because we’re in that situation where we don’t have the volunteers to look after them. The last thing we want to do is overstretch, go beyond our ability to take care of the animals,” said Hurst.

Ray Smith has been volunteering for the past year. He comes twice a week for three to four hours a day.

“It is challenging. Quite often I’m alone on my shift so you have to be careful with not only making sure you get everything done but you have to sequence it properly so that I’m not alone with two or three animals,” said Smith.

Fellow volunteer Baelyr Laverty says the shortage “means more work for each volunteer.”

“We usually have someone in the barn with us and most nights you don’t now,” Laverty said.

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Read more: Port Perry sanctuary gives animals new lease on life

Hurst says the sanctuary is currently capped at 13 animals despite receiving requests from the Ontario SPCA.

Alison Cross with the OSPCA says there are other organizations around the province in the same boat.

“We’re fortunate that we have a really strong network so we’ve been able to navigate through that where one resource if they’re struggling and not able to support, then there’s another resource that so far has been able to support,” said Cross.

Pegasus Animal Sanctuary says in addition to adverse effects on day-to-day operations, the pandemic has also put a halt to its education centre development, which was planned to open in early 2021.