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Les and Irene Dubé. Photo: Terri Feltham Photography.

‘Good samaritans’ give $1 million to animal care fund

Leslie (Les) and Irene Dubé will have an enduring effect on the lives of many pets and people, thanks to their gift of $1 million to the Good Samaritan Fund at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM).

“We thought we would be there to try and help change [the lives of] as many of those loving pets as possible,” says Les. “Often enough, there are things that veterinarians can do to preserve their lives and fix them up, but some owners cannot afford to pay for that service. For that reason, we stepped in.”

The Les and Irene Dubé Good Samaritan Fund, renamed in honour of the well-known Saskatoon philanthropists, helps to support medical treatment at the WCVM Veterinary Medical Centre (VMC) for animals that are ownerless or owned by clients who cannot pay for care due to circumstances beyond their control.

“This is a significant donation that will help a lot of people and animals,” says Jennifer Molloy, WCVM’s director of development. “The Dubés have been appreciative clients of the services provided by the Veterinary Medical Centre in the past, and they clearly understand the benefits that animals can bring to our lives. We are so grateful for their support.”

The fund was established in 2011 and has seen a rise in applications over the years — especially in the past few months during the COVID-19 pandemic. On average, the veterinary teaching hospital’s clinical team works with at least one patient per month whose circumstances qualify for financial support.

“This donation will ensure that there are many years of funding available to those who need it most,” says Molloy.

The Dubés launched the Concorde group of companies more than four decades ago and have supported over 100 different charities in the province, including a $10-million donation to support the University of Saskatchewan Health Sciences project.

“We’ve had pets for the last 15 years and we have seen broken legs, a brain tumour — we have seen things that other people face just like us,” says Irene. “Some people cannot afford to have that [treatment] done. As much as they don’t want to lose their pet, they shouldn’t have to take out loans to help their animals.”

The Dubés first came to the WCVM’s Small Animal Clinic when their first dog, Peppermint, collapsed one day and couldn’t walk. After undergoing surgery, Peppermint spent months in therapy with the WCVM’s rehabilitation team and recovered. It was the couple’s experience with Peppermint, along with other surgeries needed for their two Bichon Frise dogs, that made them want to help others.

“We met various doctors and people at the WCVM over the years and we just thought — this is something we wanted to get involved in,” says Irene. “It is time to help serve others and share our love for what they have shown us.”

Every day, the Dubés are reminded of the unconditional love that their two Maltese poodles, Sugar and Ginger, bring to their lives. They want others to enjoy their pets for many years as well.

“Those little doggies are always happy,” says Les. “We can help people to help save the lives of their pets, who provide such forgiving love to humans … it just felt like the time to support animals.” 

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