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Santa goes to the dogs, for a good cause at Davidson’s Country Dining

Deputy Mayor hosted Santa at his restaurant for a photo fundraiser
Heinz (left) and Antoni pause for a photo with Santa at Davidson's Country Dining restaurant to help raise funds for Procyon Wildlife centre Dec. 12.

She found Zorro peering down from a high shelf first, then she noticed the vet room had been destroyed.

The previously weak-as-a-kitten red fox had been convalescing at the Procyon Wildlife and Rehabilitation and Education Centre undergoing treatment for mange, a contagious skin condition that can kill animals if left untreated.

“I figure if he’s got enough energy to try to escape – he’s grown all his hair back – he’s ready to be sent outside to be climatized,” said Debra Spilar who runs the wildlife sanctuary.

Zorro was one of 23 foxes Procyon brought back to health after the mange spread across Central Ontario last summer. Spilar said they released 18 healthy foxes and still have five at the shelter. One fox, named Benny, died of the of the infections caused by the disease, she said.

“Mange is fully treatable but if it goes on for too long, it weakens them and then can die, like Benny did,” she said. Procyon is a not-for-profit wildlife centre that fundraises to provide services. It does not receive government funding, she said. “(Wild) animals are considered to be owned provincially, and the government figures ‘let nature take its course’.

"When nature stops bringing them to me, I’ll stop caring for them,” Spilar said.

Standing in the warm sunshine in front Davidson’s Country Dining at the end of Big Bay Point Road, Spilar watched as Katrina Abram, 32, brought her two adoptable husky-mixes to have their picture taken with Procyon’s Santa Claus for $15.

Abram, who previously volunteered with Procyon, pulled a reluctant Heinz and willing Antoni to sit in front of Santa.

“I thought photos with Santa would be a great way to spread the word about Procyon, and let people know I’m with Finding Them Homes and these two guys will be up for adoption soon. I’m just fostering them,” Abram said.

Inside the restaurant, Deputy Mayor Dan Davidson was offering free hot chocolate, coffee and cookies to the event's attendees. Actively helping Procyon for the past 20 years, Davidson has raised funds previously in 2004 for a sickly ‘J.J.’  Trumpeter Swan, as well as highlighting local turtles’ plight.

“The turtles now travel in a tunnel near Friday Harbour Resort rather than cross the busy roadway,” Davidson said.

For more information or to donate to Procyon, visit or call 905-729-0033.

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About the Author: Cheryl Browne

Cheryl Browne is a longtime Simcoe County journalist who writes on a freelance basis for BradfordToday and InnisfilToday
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