Bev Crandell is on a mission to change lives

Bev with Jones, the guide dog. Photo by Allyson Scott.

I have a confession: I volunteer for the Lions Foundation Dog Guides. That’s how I met Bev.

Bev Crandell is the CEO of the Lions Foundation Dog Guides. Since 2003, Bev, her husband, two children and their mini poodle Emma have lived in Leaside. They love Leaside so much that when they wanted a bigger house, they moved down the street.

Through her skillset, including governance, marketing, fundraising and a deep commitment to the organization, Bev ensures roughly 185 Labrador retrievers and poodles are matched with disabled Canadians from across Canada every year. 

These dogs change peoples’ lives in so many wonderful and remarkable ways by providing independence and security.

Bev graduated from the University of Guelph with a BComm degree. Her first job after university was in the hospitality industry. Then a job opportunity changed the trajectory of her career: The United Way in Barrie hired Bev as campaign director.

Since then, her career has been solely in the not-for-profit sector, including six years at Oxfam as manager, fundraising and marketing, and 13 years at Parkinson Canada as vice president integration and shared services. 

It may seem an odd career move to go from Parkinson Canada to Dog Guides. But for Bev, it’s all about helping people. “I love dogs and I want to serve people,” she told me. “This job is the best of both worlds.”

Bev joined Lions Foundation Dog Guides in December, 2019, just before COVID-19 changed everything for everybody at Dog Guides. 

Her goals are many and varied for the organization. Foremost is enhancing client services by investing in infrastructure, technology, and raising the bar when it comes to breeding and matching dogs with those who need them most: disabled Canadians.

Bev and her staff are making a massive investment in Dog Guides with a brand new 85,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art facility not far from the existing Oakville office. 

Under her stewardship Dog Guides made some tough decisions because of COVID-19 that affected staff, volunteers, foster families and clients. Breeding stopped. Foster families were asked to keep their puppies for much longer than usual. People waiting for service dogs were gravely disappointed.

But there has been some good news, too! “We have been fortunate that we have not had to lay off any staff,” and slowly over the last few months some aspects of the program have restarted.

The breeding program just celebrated two new litters of pups with more coming! Dogs have been recalled to begin formal training and people have been matched with service canines.

Perhaps the biggest challenge of all is fundraising. Dog Guides, a charity, receives no government funding. The biggest annual fundraiser is the Pet Valu Virtual Walk for Dog Guides, with walks across Canada.

Raising and training each service dog cost $25,000. The fundraising goal for this year? $1.3 million. 

Lions Foundation Dog Guides of Canada can certainly count on Bev Crandell to get the job done.

The Pet Valu Virtual Walk for Dog Guides is Sunday, May 30. For info:

This article was guest contributed by Andrea Villiers.