The Pooch Playoffs have paid off

The Pooch Playoffs have paid off
Korina Joseph presents Refuge le Château with $1,000 donation. The funds were raised through her participation in the Pooch Playoffs. From left to right: Korina Joseph, photographer and organizer of the Sherbrooke-area Pooch Playoffs fundraiser; Marley, Joseph’s dog; and Martin Provost, co-founder and owner of Refuge le Château. (Photo : Cassie MacDonell)

By: Cassie MacDonell
Local Journalism Initiative

The Pooch Playoffs have finally concluded, and on Wednesday, Sherbrooke resident and photographer Korina Joseph, presented the donations she raised to local non-profit Refuge le Château.
The Pooch Playoffs is an initiative started by a collective of photographers across Canada and the United States, aimed to raise money for animal-related charities. Photographers from across the globe took portraits of dogs in their area to raise money. The dogs then competed in a bracket-style competition based on their level of cuteness.
Sixteen dogs competed for the title of “Ulti-mutt Cutie” in the Sherbrooke bracket. Koda, this year’s Sherbrooke-area winner, moved on to compete against other dogs internationally, but unfortunately fell short as pooch Gus snagged the lead.
The 28 photographers who took part in the 2022 Pooch Playoffs collectively raised over $43,500 for charity. Joseph, photographer and representative for the Sherbrooke area, raised $1,000 for a charity of her choice.
“I was looking for a local charity,” Joseph explained, “something not too big.” On May 4, Joseph handed over a cheque to Refuge le Château amounting to $1,000.
Located in downtown Sherbrooke, Refuge le Château is a non-profit shelter that is home to a variety of different animals, such as cats, fish, rabbits, reptiles, guinea pigs, and even a goat. Animals can be adopted from the shelter or may live in the refuge permanently if they require special care.
However, Refuge le Château is not an ordinary shelter. Cats are free to roam the premise. Animals are kept in large enclosures that are decorated with plants by volunteers. During the exchange of Joseph’s donation, a volunteer sat in a large room with the sole duty of keeping the animals company.
“They help so many different animals; it’s not just cats and dogs, it’s also turtles, reptiles …. it’s such a great cause,” Joseph explained.
All the money donated will be put towards the care and upkeep of the animals at Refuge le Château.
“My dog is actually from a shelter,” Joseph revealed, “so it’s something near and dear to my heart.” Joseph’s dog Marley can be seen obediently sitting next to her owner in the photo.
According to volunteer Céline Lecompte, Refuge le Château doesn’t just provide care and adoption services for these animals. “It’s a unique experience for showing and educating people on what kind of animals they should be adopting,” Lecompte explained. She used the example of the many turtles that have been given to the shelter because their owners didn’t realize how big they can grow. Education provided at Refuge le Château allows potential pet owners to make educated decisions about their adoptions, which can provide animals with a better quality of life.
When COVID-19 caused an economic shutdown in March 2020, there was an average of 100 adoptions each month, which since has subsided now that everything opened back up.
Refuge le Château runs on donations like Joseph’s. “All our cleaning products, materials for plants, aquarium, rabbit food, it’s all donations,” Lecompte explained, “it truly takes a village.”
Lecompte has a deep fondness for her volunteer work. “What I really love about this shelter is the passion, both Martin’s and everyone who works here. It’s for the wellbeing of all animals.”
Martin Provost, owner and co-founder of Refuge le Château, estimates that there have been around 10,000 adoptions since the refuge opened.

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