In 2005, Barbara MacLeod saw an urgent need to establish a not-for-profit, ‘no-kill’ rescue organization that would address the overpopulation of abandoned cats in Orillia. The organization began with Barb and a handful of other volunteers operating out of a garage for close to three years, taking in strays and owner surrenders and utilizing what few foster homes were available at that time. Unfortunately, the property was sold and the shelter had to lease a new location which was the Front Street South location. The new Front Street home came with a host of issues, including people dropping off cats after hours in the foyer in the cold winter months, or during the summer months where the cats were left in the hot sun, not to mention the vandalism that had occurred to volunteer’s cars, the general safety concerns and the lack of space for the ever-increasing amount of abandoned cats needing shelter.
In 2016, a sizable donation bequeathed by a long-time supporter, enabled the non-profit organization to purchase a new building (mortgage-free). The Front Street location expired at the end of September 2016 so the timing of the donation saved the organization from closure.
In September of 2016, The Comfie Cat Shelter, incorporated, became a registered charity and opened its doors at the new 112 Norweld Drive Orillia location where it remains today.
For well over a decade, Barb has contributed to the welfare of many cats not only in Orillia but also the surrounding areas. There has not been an animal that Barb has not tried to help, from her friend the fox that would hang around the shelter, to an injured duck that was dropped off at the shelter, a few raccoons needing assistance, you name it, Barb has cared for it, she literally could not even stand to kill a fly inside the shelter. Her heart extends beyond the animals as she has assisted many individuals over the years as well, she has been a real powerhouse when it comes to caring.
After 17 years of caring for all the animals and people, Barb has now decided to take her long overdue, and well deserved retirement from The Comfie Cat Shelter. Barb was asked her thoughts about a planned event we had in mind to celebrate her retirement and say thank you, but in true Barb form, she graciously declined and urged us to direct whatever funds would have been used for the event to go directly to the welfare of the cats at the shelter. From all of us volunteers at ‘the shelter’ we thank her for all she has done and wish her all the best.