Branch manager Wendy Davies was joined by members of her staff, as well as supporter Lynn Way from Tumbler Ridge, to make a presentation to the regional district board on Thursday morning. Davies said the shelter just does not have the space to continue housing so many animals, and she believes the regional district has a responsibility help expand the existing shelter, or build a new one for animals found outside of Dawson Creek and Pouce Coupe.
“If we were to only take in animals from Dawson Creek and Pouce Coupe, where we have contracts, we could manage, but with the animals coming in from all of the other areas, we can’t continue to go on the way we are,” said Davies. “They (the regional district) either have to provide a larger facility for us to take in all the animals, or they are going to have to set up a separate facility to take in the animals from those areas.”
She said out of 71 animals they care for currently, 11 dogs and five cats were found outside of Dawson Creek and Pouce Coupe – in Hudson’s Hope, Chetwynd, Tumbler Ridge and rural areas in between. She said they really only have capacity for 60 animals at the shelter, and the more overcrowded it becomes, the more stress it puts on the animals and the risk becomes greater of spreading diseases.
“Yesterday I had to turn away 14 cats, because we simply couldn’t take them in, we have no space,” she said.
Davies said the South Peace Animal Hospital is currently housing those cats in hopes that a home will be found for them. She added the clinic has been very helpful in the past as well, but not all the animals that have to be turned away by the shelter are so fortunate, as many will be euthanized or simply abandoned and left to die.
Way, a Tumbler Ridge resident for over 23 years, has been a passionate supporter of the South Peace SPCA for many years, having donated over $30,000 to the branch over the past several years through various fundraisers. Way read from a letter she wrote imploring the regional district to help the local branch expand its facility.
“Every time I visit the Dawson Creek SPCA facility I am saddened not just for the occupants but for the workers and volunteers,” Way wrote. “The SPCA employees and volunteers are trying to make due with a rundown, cramped facility that does not and cannot meet the needs of animals in the South Peace. We need a new facility in the South Peace.”
Davies said the SPCA receives no government funding, and the fee received when an animal is adopted does not even cover the full cost of having that animal spayed or neutered, de-wormed and checked by a veterinarian. She added adopting a pet from the SPCA is a great deal because it is an affordable way to own a pet, and it saves the lives of two animals – the adopted one, and the one that is able to be sheltered because of the space created by when an animal is adopted.
She said she remains hopeful that the regional district can do something to address the problem, as she said it does require urgent attention.