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Paws'itive Impact

Jets players lend a helping hand in the community.

Friday, 27.04.2012 / 4:34 PM / Feature
By Kristi Hennessy  - Coordinator, Web Content
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Paws\'itive Impact
Jets players help out in a big way in the community.

Having the Winnipeg Jets back has had a massive impact on pretty much everyone in Winnipeg and across Manitoba. The Winnipeg Pet Rescue shelter, a small non-profit charity organization on West Portage Avenue is just one of many who have really felt the positive impact of the Jets return. The ‘No-Kill’ animal shelter has had more adoptions in the past year then ever before….and some of the thanks goes to the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Club.

It all started from the idea to name puppies at the shelter after Jets players. That small idea grabbed the attention of the Winnipeg Jets and a story was written and posted to the Winnipeg Jets website and to their social media platforms. The story quickly went viral and within a day or two, several local newspapers, radio stations and news stations were spreading the story across Winnipeg.

“Our adoption rate went up (since naming the puppies),” said Founder and Director of the shelter, Carla Martinelli-Irvine. “Everyone wants to adopt Blake or Bryan or Ladd, and it’s just been terrific. They’ve all gone to loving homes. Things have been really wonderful since they wrote the article about us.”

Pictures of the puppies were seen by some of the Jets players and the word was out in the dressing room. Players began re-tweeting and re-posting photos of the puppies sporting their names.

“It went around the team,” said Jets forward Bryan Little. “We all went on the website and started look at the dogs and the names, it was pretty cool. It was cute to see the dogs with our names and I think it definitely helped get the word out. I heard quite a few of them got adopted after that too.”

Forward Blake Wheeler saw his puppy’s picture and offered to donate his jersey to the person who would adopt that puppy. He honored his promise.

“My wife Sam first caught wind of it and followed the shelter on twitter,” Wheeler explained. “She saw that there were a few puppies named after Jets players and I thought that was a really good idea…to get the word out there a little bit more. It was fun to see what dogs were named after what guys...some more fitting than others! It was a fun way to get more awareness around the city.”

Sam had been following the Winnipeg Pet Rescue Shelter on twitter and had been looking to get out in the community and donate her time to a good cause. Being a dog lover and owner herself, this opportunity fit the bill.

Little’s girlfriend Brittney joined Sam and also began helping at the shelter. After a couple of months volunteering, the two couples decided to organize an autograph session to create awareness and raise money.

“We are Manitoba’s first NO-Kill animal shelter that was registered as a charity,” explained Martinelli-Irvine. “We move about 1000 animals per year. We are donor supported and receive no funding from the city or the government and we rely on the good citizens of Winnipeg to keep us going.”

On March 17th, Blake and Bryan visited the shelter for the Helping Hero fundraiser. To their surprise, hundreds of fans and dog lovers were lined up to donate a minimum of $5 to the shelter in exchange for a meet and greet with two of their favourite Jets players.

“Bryan and myself are both huge dog lovers, we have dogs ourselves,” said Wheeler. “We thought it would be a great way for people to come out to the shelter and donate their money and we donate our time and it all goes to a good cause. It’s a no-kill shelter and they do a great job of taking in dogs that need homes and finding a good home for them.”

Close to 1000 fans showed up at the shelter to donate to the shelter and meet two of their favourite Jets players.

“It’s crazy, the power of social media,” said Wheeler. “You start tweeting a few things and especially with the buzz around the city with the Jets. Bryan and I were driving practice to get some lunch and we saw the line forming. It’s great that the people came out the way they did. It’s a great cause and a great place to meet and greet some loveable pets.”

The shelter brought in $5690.32 of donations that afternoon. In addition to Bryan and Blake donating their time, the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Club got on board with the event and donated a game-used Tobias Enstrom signed stick, two Jets hoodies, two Jets hats, two inaugural pucks signed by Wheeler and Little and a full team signed Jets jersey that were all used as prizes for all new monthly donors.

“It was great to see the turnout of people that come and support this,” said Little. “It’s a non-profit organization and I think Blake and I donating our time to raise some money for the shelter makes us feel good because it’s such a great cause.”

A pair of tickets for the Jets vs. Carolina Hurricanes for the March 18th game, were also donated by one of the friends of the shelter that were raffled off after the event.

“Everyone that came in has seen the need to keep us going here,” said Martinelli-Irvine. “All of our cages are full and over three hundred animals waiting to come into the shelter and we need people to continue to support us. So people might come in and remember us when they want to adopt or if somebody needs help with their pet they’ll know that we’re here to help them.”

The generosity continued as the Wheelers had an even bigger hand at the annual Winnipeg Pet Shelter Survivor Gala, which was held at the Gates on Roblin on April 26th. Blake and Sam donated two team signed, framed jerseys as well as a trip for two to Orlando to have lunch with an astronaut, valued at $6,000, that were all auctioned off at the gala. The Winnipeg Jets Hockey Club also donated a framed picture of the opening face-off, signed by the captain, Andrew Ladd.

The donated Jets signed jerseys raised $7,800 at the live auction with all proceeds going directly to the shelter.

The Winnipeg Pet Rescue Shelter and their puppies, cannot thank Blake and Sam Wheeler, Bryan Little and Brittney Parker enough for their caring and generous efforts over the past few months. The lives they have saved and the impact they have had on the shelter is immeasurable.




1 NSH 62 41 14 7 188 147 89
2 ANA 63 39 17 7 186 176 85
3 STL 61 39 18 4 190 152 82
4 CHI 63 37 21 5 183 150 79
5 WPG 63 31 20 12 174 170 74
6 VAN 61 35 23 3 174 162 73
7 MIN 61 32 22 7 173 160 71
8 LAK 61 29 20 12 164 157 70
9 CGY 62 33 25 4 175 160 70
10 SJS 62 30 24 8 173 177 68
11 COL 62 27 24 11 166 179 65
12 DAL 62 27 25 10 195 207 64
13 ARI 62 20 35 7 137 210 47
14 EDM 62 18 34 10 142 206 46


B. Little 63 24 26 9 50
A. Ladd 63 20 30 12 50
B. Wheeler 61 16 28 12 44
D. Byfuglien 63 15 26 6 41
M. Perreault 56 18 18 3 36
M. Scheifele 63 10 25 4 35
M. Frolik 63 13 19 3 32
D. Stafford 57 10 17 -18 27
J. Tlusty 53 13 10 -17 23
E. Kane 37 10 12 -1 22
M. Hutchinson 18 7 5 .920 2.29
O. Pavelec 13 13 7 .909 2.60
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