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“Santa Paws for Pets” backs pet research

Dr. Gord Goodridge, Dr. Tawni Silver and Dr. Doug Freeman

Dr. Gord Goodridge (a.k.a. Santa Paws) presents a $5,600 cheque to CAHF chair Dr. Tawni Silver and WCVM Dean Dr. Douglas Freeman on behalf of staff at the Centennial Animal Hospital in Winnipeg, Man.

For one day every December, Winnipeg veterinarian Dr. Gord Goodridge (WCVM ’75) trades in his stethoscope for a red velvet suit and plays Ol’ St. Nick at the Centennial Animal Hospital’s annual Christmas fundraiser.

But while other Santa Clauses bestow their “Ho Ho Hos” on young children, Goodridge shares his lap with a variety of furry, four-legged creatures during the special day that is entirely organized by the veterinary hospital’s staff.

“Our Santa Claus suit definitely has to be sent out for dry cleaning every year,” says Goodridge, grinning.

For Goodridge, the temporary discomfort is well worth it. Since the first event was held six years ago, the Centennial Animal Hospital’s annual “Santa Paws for Pets” Day has steadily grown in size and success — thanks to the enthusiastic efforts of hospital staff.

“I think it’s a wonderful example of what people can achieve when you give them the freedom to act on a great idea,” says Goodridge, one of the hospital’s owners and veterinarians.

Each year, the group chooses an animal charity to support and then sets out to raise money by asking local businesses, suppliers, organizations and clients for donations to a silent auction that’s held during the Santa Paws for Pets Day.

Photos of pet owners’ beloved pets posing with the veterinarian-turned-Santa are free. But donations to the charity of choice are encouraged, and most owners are more than happy to contribute to a worthy cause.

Centennial Animal Hospital staff

Staff at Winnipeg’s Centennial Animal Hospital. Photo courtesy of Dr. Gord Goodridge.

In December 2011, the hospital’s staff selected the Western College of Veterinary Medicine’s Companion Animal Health Fund (CAHF) as the lucky recipient of the proceeds from their annual fundraiser. On behalf of his colleagues, Goodridge presented a cheque for $5,600 to WCVM representatives during the CAHF’s annual advisory board meeting in March 2012.

“We’re so grateful for the amazing efforts of Dr. Goodridge and everyone at the Centennial Animal Hospital who organized this unique fundraising initiative,” says WCVM Dean Dr. Douglas Freeman.

“Their generosity helps to support vital research projects that can make a big difference in the lives of our pets. They’re also supporting specialized training for veterinarians in disciplines such as small animal surgery, internal medicine, veterinary oncology and medical imaging.”

For Goodridge, the CAHF was a fitting choice: he is one of the fund’s advisory board members and has been a longtime supporter of the CAHF. “The staff decides what charity we support each year, and we’ve contributed to a number of great causes over the years. I was very happy that they decided to support the CAHF this time — it’s a good fit for our hospital.”

Goodridge hopes the Centennial Animal Hospital’s annual event will inspire other veterinary clinics to develop similar fundraisers in support of companion animal health research. He’s even willing to give some tips on how to get started — including how to be a great Santa for pets.

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