A local teacher has found a way to combine his love of animals and current events by giving back. 

Spencer Sekyer,  a social science teacher at Clover Bar Junior High, has been helping set up an animal care facility in Iraq.

“It was kind of fitting. I just thought it would be a good way to spend Christmas,” he told CTV News.

Spencer had originally planned to go over the summer but did not get his visa in time.

“Everything kind of came together over Christmas time and Christie, my wife, gave me her blessing so I decided to come over Christmas.”

Christie Skeyer said she understood her husband's passion for volunteer work.

“You can read in a book or you can hear on the news but it is completely different when you have your feet on the ground.”

Working with Dr. Suileman Tameer, Spencer is helping get the facility up and running.

He said he was even able to bring over some veterinary supplies.

“He was over the moon just with the stuff that we brought.”

Spencer said that although he has done similar trips to other locations in the past, this one has been particularly difficult.

“To see all the stuff that I did, even just today alone, and then to come back to my room at the end of the day," he explained, "to come back and try to process it, it is not easy."

He added that he encounters numerous stray animals every day.

“At night time and in the early mornings they come into the city and scavenge.

“There are certainly some animals that are in horrendous shape.”

Spencer expects to return to Canada next week. 

With files from Amanda Anderson