The End of an Era
Honouring Dr. Pauline van Veen

“One of my best memories was going to our very first spay/neuter clinic! Pauline said “You’re a nurse so you will be in the operating room with me!” I was so nervous but so excited for this opportunity! I watched every surgery she did and we did quite a few while we were there. Pauline rarely takes breaks and just keeps going! She has taught me so much over the years and let me watch so many interesting surgeries! Best memory was at that first clinic where many of us came down with the flu including Pauline. She was doing a spay and quickly said bring me a garbage can where she threw up and then carried on with surgery! What a trooper!! Most dedicated and selfless vet I have met!!”

– Julia Dezoete, Co-Founder, Finding Them Homes

“Pauline and I went to Fort Hope on a very short notice vaccine clinic. Just the two of us went, flew up to Thunder Bay, then into Fort Hope. We spent 2 days vaccinating as many dogs as we could get done and bringing home a few  at the same time. I was no match for her speed with paperwork and holding the dogs, distracting them with a treat; at one point, one very hungry female even chomped down on my finger! We paid visits to a few houses to vaccinate where one man played the harmonica while his dog howled away to it! On our travel back, we almost got stuck in Landsdowne House because another plane was stuck on a runway with a flat tire but we somehow convinced the pilots we needed to get back and not miss our Thunder Bay flight home as Pauline had to work the next day. We made it just in time to see our foster giving birth!”

– Lisa Dezoete, Co-Founder, Finding Them Homes

“Over the years Dr. Pauline van Veen has become a beloved friend and mentor. To say she will be missed by our northern communities on the coast of James Bay is an understatement. Pauline has donated her time and energy into several spay/neuter/vaccination clinics. She has taken the time to teach and speak with community members. Pauline has answered so many calls due to emergencies with our animals, at all hrs. I, we, are so grateful that Dr. van Veen has taken the time and answered the extreme need for vet care. Pauline along with FTH have created so much awareness in our communities, from parasites to vaccines to preventing over-population of our pets. There is nothing they would not do. Pauline even made attempts to deliver food and vaccines to our communities in a blizzard. Pauline will be missed. I can never say enough, we can never thank her enough, I don’t think she will ever be replaced.”

– Karen Metatawabin, Northern Liaison, Finding Them Homes

For the past 8 years, Dr. Pauline van Veen has devoted her time, clinic, and expertise to Finding Them Homes. What had begun as a small “passion project” quickly grew to an undertaking of epic proportions. Virtually every single one of FTH’s 3,200+ (!!!) rescues has passed under Dr. van Veen’s care for anything from a pre-adoption check up to life-saving surgery. Each one has been treated with the same level of care, compassion, and skill as the first. 

“When I was a fresh RVT (registered veterinary technician), Dr. Pauline van Veen asked if I wanted to go north to a community called Kashechewan to do a spay neuter clinic. I had no idea where Kashechewan was but learned quickly that it was only accessible by ice roads. I said “sure”, not knowing exactly what I was agreeing to. Just like that I went on the adventure of a lifetime. I learned how to perfect all my anaesthetic skills super-fast working 12 hour days performing one surgery after another. I admire Pauline and am so grateful that she allowed me to go on this and many other adventures with her. She taught me so much and I have memories that will last a lifetime.”

– Katrina Abram

“Pauline is one of the most dedicated and hardworking people I know. My most memorable experience with her is during a spay and neuter clinic in Muskrat Dam and Bearskin. We only had two days in Bearskin as it was a last minute add-on to try to help out their community. The first day was fairly quiet, but the second day was nuts! We ended up having a whole litter (9 of them!) of large breed puppies come in around 7pm asking if they could be spayed and neutered. Knowing we already had a number of dogs left for surgery I went to ask Pauline what she thought. Without batting an eye, she said “well, it’s what we are here for. I’m good if everyone else is.” 

– Miranda Green

The Finding Them Homes Spay & Neuter Clinics were quickly integrated into the fabric of our mission; without addressing the issue of overpopulation in remote Northern communities (due primarily to large populations of wild dogs and poor or non-existent access to local veterinary care), we simply would never get ahead. Dr. van Veen championed these clinics, determined not only to address issues of over-population but also to give the many well-meaning and responsible pet owners of these remote communities access to the veterinary services they so desperately required. In many ways, Dr. van Veen was the bridge between two worlds; facilitating not only the rescue and adoption process to southern adopters, but also the critical veterinary care for local pet owners.

Dr. van Veen’s efforts are so significant, that when we attempted to think back at how many spays and neuters she had actually performed with Finding Them Homes, we lost count somewhere in the hundreds. Hundreds, if not thousands, of surgeries performed over the better part of the last decade, and always as a volunteer. Dr. van Veen’s travels North to perform these clinics meant time away from her clinic, her income, and her family. Despite this, she never hesitated to make the journey at every available opportunity.

“Many people have bucket lists. 2 of mine since volunteering with FTH was to meet and or work with Pauline, and to participate in a clinic. I got to kill 2 birds with one stone so to speak; I not only got to meet Pauline but got to work with her in a vaccine clinic up north a year ago this month! It was an honour and privilege to have done this with Pauline – she’s such a passionate, dedicated, wonderful and beautiful person inside and out. Congrats on your retirement Dr. Pauline and cheers to the many memories you’ll now make in the next chapter in your life, and a big heart felt thank you for everything you’ve done for FTH and taught all us volunteers along your journey! Hugs ‘n kisses!”

-Amy Huard

“I was honoured and excited to be invited to attend a spay and neuter clinic with Finding Them Homes alongside DVM, Pauline Van Veen. It was an incredible experience working with her to provide care for pets in North Spirit Lake. Pauline was so caring and enthusiastic about helping everyone who walked through the clinic door and she was a fantastic teacher to me. I am very grateful that she taught me so many things and introduced me to my career in veterinary medicine.”

– Phoebe Richards

If her Northern endeavours weren’t enough, Dr. van Veen was also our local vet at the rescue’s home base in Barrie. She looked after every single foster until they found their furever homes, making sure each dog went to their new family in the best health possible. Most of the time, this was quite straightforward; a few vaccines, perhaps a check for ear infection or parasites, and away we went. But other times, this role required extensive time, energy, and resources. No matter the hurdle, Dr. van Veen was every dog’s champion, determined to give each one their best shot at adoption.

“Back in 2016 we had a foster who was pregnant. No biggie, right? Unfortunately, one of her pups got stuck during delivery and had to have a C-section. After her C-section she had a mass that then needed to be removed from her uterus. After that … she had issues emptying her bladder. What does this mean? This meant that every single day for weeks and weeks I would take this foster in to see Pauline to have a catheter put in and drained. 7 days a week we did this for weeks on end. Not only did Pauline willingly take this on, she also used it as a teaching moment for vet techs to practice as it’s not something they do a lot of. Thank you for always going above and beyond for your clients and their families.”

– Jennifer Caceres

“Earlier this year when we fostered Chiara, she had 2 mammary masses and it was determined she would be a ‘forever foster’. Pauline met us late at night at the vet a couple of times as we were concerned she was in pain so she checked her and made sure she had all she needed to be comfortable for her remaining days. When the time came to say goodbye, Pauline met us once again to help her cross the rainbow bridge and I will never forget how compassionate she was. She let me hold her and cuddle her the entire time and once she passed, I was telling her how much she loved eating French fries so she told me, if we wanted, she could be cremated with the fries we bought for her that day that she was too weak to eat. It was a small gesture, but in that moment, it brought me immense comfort.” 

-Sarah Corona

“So, our relationship goes back oh probably 9-10 yrs. During that period she cared for 5 of our bullmastiffs and us. She is one the most caring and compassionate people we have ever met. She always greeted all of us with hugs (doesn’t seem that long ago) Anyway, we lost our beloved boy just when COVID started in the spring. We were crushed. Pauline emailed a picture of her and Bronson, and asked us if we would be interested in him. Being used to a Bully Breed, she threw it out there. The rest is history! So we will be grateful to her forever. Thanks and Love ya!”

– Cheryl, Ron Shayna and Bronson

“My partner and I fostered for FTH and one of our fosters was a pregnant mom, about 5 years ago. She ended up giving birth to 14 puppies! Yes, you read that right, 14 puppies, and we were in for the long haul for a full 8 weeks! Those 8 weeks were so busy and during that time Pauline was available for any questions or concerns we had. Before the puppies went to their forever homes at 8 weeks old, Pauline packed up everything necessary and came to our house to administer vaccinations and do thorough check-ups. It was such a relief to know we didn’t have to trek the puppies all the way to the vet and back. Pauline was always selfless and willing to help anyone at any hour of the day and we are forever thankful for her knowledge, compassion, and empathy.”

– Angelina Feletto

Dr. van Veen has changed the lives of thousands of dogs, their families, and remote Northern communities too numerous to count. Her selfless passion and advocacy for accessible vet care has been a defining feature of Finding Them Homes’ success. Though she hopes to continue assisting with spay and neuter clinics in her retirement, we will certainly miss the incomparable level of care she brings to our fosters and fur babies here in the Barrie area. She will continue lending her skills one day a week at the Humane Society in North Bay performing spay and neuter surgeries.

Pauline – there are no words to appropriately capture everything you have done for this rescue and the communities it serves. Your infectious passion has left a mark on everyone you have encountered over the past 8 years. Though you will be dearly missed, we wish you nothing but the best as you begin your well-deserved retirement. We hope you seize the opportunity to pursue whatever adventures lay ahead of you. Thank you not only for your time and dedication, but for your zeal and friendship. Your unparalleled contributions to Finding Them Homes have helped shape the successful operation we have today. You have changed all of us for the better and you will be warmly remembered.