We’re all suckers for a cute dog in a coat, right? Well, meet the two legendary women who are pioneering the doggie coat business for neglected and down-on-their-luck rescue dogs.
Sonia and Marjorie are the faces behind Vollies, a line of coats produced specifically for emaciated canines – and these two humble South Aussies are taking their operation national.
One little coat design now helps hundreds of rescue dogs nation-wide
As a long-time RSPCA South Australia foster carer and volunteer, Vollies founder Sonia drew up the pattern for the coats years ago. With no idea how big her small idea would get, Sonia and her seamstress friend Majorie have now produced more than 500 coats for dogs nationwide.
Dozens of RSPCA South Australia rescue dogs have benefited, and Sonia and Majorie have also shipped more than 50 coats to RSPCA Tasmania, too, with plans to supply RSPCA’s Melbourne and Canberra branches soon.
The Vollies pattern veers away from the traditional dog coat and instead has adjustable ties, meaning all dogs fit snugly in their coats, regardless of their shape, size or weight. The jackets are multi-purposed as dressing gowns for shelter dogs in winter and post-surgery robes for sore puppy patients.
Sonia explains: “The coats I make don’t use velcro, we use ties, so they are suitable for emaciated dogs who need a tighter fit.”
It all began with Hero, the injured and emaciated husky
The demand for Vollies coats began to snowball when, in late 2015, Hero the husky’s high-profile neglect case received international attention. A very underweight Hero came to RSPCA South Australia with a severe leg injury, possibly the result of being hit by a car, as well as an extreme case of mange and further skin infections.
“The shelter nurses measured Hero up and I ended up making three coats for him,” Sonia recalls.
“The coats are great for dogs with skin infections as well, because they provide protection and stop dogs from scratching and further irritating their skin.”
One year later, Sonia enlisted the help of Majorie to keep up with the growing demand. The women have honed their craft and can now produce an entire coat in less than an hour.
“It takes about 35 minutes to cut the material and stitch it all together, but I usually make them in big batches,” Sonia says.
Donated towels and blankets crucial to coat-making operation
Initially made from Sonia’s own materials, Vollies coats are now made from towels and blankets donated to RSPCA South Australia’s Lonsdale shelter.
RSPCA Lonsdale vet assistant and shelter officer Michelle Anderson says: “The whole shelter now uses the Vollies and love them. We can’t imagine being without these coats.”
What inspires these lovely ladies to continue their tireless work? Their pure love of dogs. Sonia attributes her dedication to her life-long love of animals, with the project giving Majorie, a former seamstress, the sense of purpose she craved in retirement.
With their ever-expanding operation, Sonia and Majorie continue to give up their time and efforts to help give emaciated dogs and animals the gift of warmth and comfort. You can help by donating secondhand blankets and towels to RSPCA’s Lonsdale shelter – just drop them off at 25 Meyer Road, Lonsdale.
Can you spare time to help us save animals? It’s only with the support of kind-hearted volunteers that RSPCA South Australia can reach so many abandoned, neglected, sick and surrendered animals each year. Help us help them – apply to volunteer now.