A Peterborough-area woman’s estate gift is providing $741,000 to the Peterborough Humane Society‘s new animal care centre project.
According to the humane society, the late Cynthia (Cyndy) Richards left the estate gift to support the Our Pet Project campaign to build the $10.3-million facility on 20 acres of land on Technology Drive in the city’s east end.
According to long-time friend Pat de Villiers, who is Richards’s power of attorney, Richards grew up in Peterborough and spent most of her life working as an X-ray technician, working briefly in Toronto before relocating to Edmonton, Alta., where she lived most of her career.
Living primarily in the country, Richards owned both horses and cats, de Villiers said. In 2000, she returned to her family home in Peterborough, bringing both her two horses and cats with her. All of her cats were rescues. Richards died in November 2019 at the age of 72.
“Her whole life she had a deep love for animals,” de Villiers said.
Richards was also an “avid” volunteer at the humane society.
Susan Lashmar, an animal care employee at the shelter since 2002, recalls Richards’s love of felines.
“She would come into the shelter, take her coat off, say hi to everyone before starting her day and then she would spend all her time with the cats,” Lashmar said. “She’d snuggle them, help groom them and loved every minute of it. She would come in as often as she could.”
Shawn Morey, executive director of the shelter, says Richards’s legacy will live on as the animal care centre’s cat adoption program will be renamed the “Cynthia Richards Cat Adoption Program” in her memory. Her name will be memorialized with signage in the cat adoption areas and on the centre’s Donor Wall in the Adoption and Education Centre’s lobby.
Morey says the donation will help improve lighting, animal space and the centre’s overall ventilation.
“We are so proud and honoured that Cynthia decided to leave a gift in her will to support our organization’s mission,” he said. “Not only will it bring us much closer to building our centre that will enhance animal wellness, but the cat adoption spaces will give cats and kittens more space, natural light, more room to play, reduce wait times for spay/neuter, and most importantly, set them up to find their forever home that much sooner.”
The new animal care centre aims to replace the aging and cramped current animal shelter on Lansdowne Street East. The facility will include an adoptions centre and spay and neuter clinic as well as a provincial dog rehabilitation centre and offices.
To date more than $7.2 million has been raised for the project, the shelter reports on its website.