Archive for May, 2010

Business Helping Animals in Richmond

Businesses Helping Animals
By Christie Lagally

Christine Bellan has volunteered to groom and clean up stray and neglected animals for a long time. While living in Ottawa, she trained in and eventually taught professional dog grooming before she moved to Richmond 11 years ago. Now, in addition to running a busy grooming studio, Bellan also grooms the homeless and neglected dogs brought to her from the Richmond Animal Shelter. As a local business owner in Richmond, Bellan says she enjoys helping in the ways she can, and grooming is a definite need for a busy animal shelter.

But in addition to her regular duties, last Sunday Christine’s Grooming Studio hosted a Doggy Groom-a-thon fundraiser for the Richmond Animal Protection Society (RAPS). All day, patrons brought in their dogs for a good shampoo, brushing and a little clipping, and each dog went home with a ‘RAPS’ scarf to remember the day. Sonya Kamp, manager of the RAPS operated Richmond Animal Shelter, organized volunteers for the day to wash and brush dogs. The clipping was done by Bellan. I asked Kamp how she got volunteers to come wash dirty, smelly dogs on Sunday morning. She said the trick is to offer volunteers short shifts, and it was good thing too. The morning was packed with dogs, and the dog washers had a line out the door! Volunteers said at one point things got pretty ‘hairy’, and that they never knew it was this hard to groom dogs! But it was thanks to them that this fundraiser was a success, and the proceeds went towards RAPS’ efforts to care for neglected canines.

It was quite generous for Bellan to open up her studio to this myriad of activity and extra flying pet hair on Sunday, and I’m continually impressed at how businesses in Richmond are coming forward to give back to the animal welfare community. Gary Lewis, owner of Phoenix Perennials in Richmond, shares the same philanthropic ethos as Bellan. His nursery hosts Charity Shopping Weekends on a regular basis for a variety of charities. They have donated over $7000.00 to charities in recent years, including animal groups such as Greyhaven Bird Sanctuary and Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue. And on the last weekend in May, you’ll have a chance to shop for RAPS too.

Marianne Moore, RAPS’ coordinator for this shopping event, feels that businesses such as Phoenix Perennials and Christine’s Grooming Studio certainly want to give back to the community, but mostly the owners are animal lovers and they want to make a difference. Donating time or proceeds from your business is one great way to do just that while also making a living. Lewis describes the relationship between charities and local businesses as a mutually beneficial arrangement which raises the profile of the charity as well as the business.

Personally, I agree with Lewis and Moore, but this local business-charity synergy is more than just mutually beneficial. I think businesses supporting charities creates a ripple effect when it’s done locally as it is in Richmond. In recent years, we’ve heard of the benefits of buying our food locally following popular ideas like the 100-mile diet. The idea being that by getting your food locally, you reduce pollution because your food did not travel as far and you support the businesses run by your neighbors. But when businesses also support your local animal shelter or other rescue society, those donated funds continue to stay within the community. Although there are a lot of national and international charities that deserve our financial assistance, supporting a local business that in-turn also supports a charity is more than mutually beneficial, it is community minded.

So if you missed the RAPS Groom-a-thon, on the weekend of May 29th and 30th you will have another opportunity to raise funds for the Richmond Animal Shelter, but this time you can add to your garden as well. Phoenix Perennials is at 3380 No. 6 Road. Just do your garden shopping at Phoenix Perennials that weekend, and when you go to pay, tell the cashier you are shopping to benefit RAPS and the Richmond Animal Shelter. Twenty-five percent of the proceeds from your purchase will go directly to RAPS.

Christie Lagally is a freelance pet columnist who lives in Richmond.


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HugABull Rescue Society Fosters Over 20 rescued pit bulls!


By Christie Lagally

There are a lot more doggie hugs to be had within the HugABull Advocacy and Rescue Society this week after the organization was contacted by the Surrrey SPCA shelter and asked to take in 23 pit bulls.  The dogs were found during a police inspection of a home in Surrey last week, and the neglected pit bulls were taken into custody.  Luckily, HugABull, a local Vancouver organization that helps to care for and adopt out homeless pit bulls and other bully dog breeds, took on the daunting task of fostering these precious dogs most of which were covered in wounds and suffering from a variety of diseases.  Of the 26 dogs found in the home, 19 were puppies, ranging in age from six weeks to six months, and all were suffering from a combination of severe mange, respiratory infections, kennel cough or open wounds.  These are all treatable conditions, but the owners did nothing to care for their animals.  This is evidence that the dog owners were basically running a backyard puppy mill.  The blue colored pit bulls are a popular breed these days, and it appears that the owners were breeding litter after litter just to sell the puppies.

Any shelter taking on this many dogs at once has to ask for help, and the Surrey SPCA did the right thing when they called HugABull.  Shelagh Begg, director for the HugABull Society, said that, of course, they had to help out.  Pit bulls are a special breed of dog, and HugABull, along with help from Bully Buddies (another rescue group), has lots of experience evaluating the temperament of this breed, helping them to recover from abusive situations and integrating them into the community.  But, first and formost, these 23 dogs need a whole lot of love and special veterinary care.  All the while, the HugABull volunteers are getting to know their new doggie friends.

Begg, herself, has become a foster parent to a dear two-year-old pitty named Tandy.  She appeared to have been one of the most neglected the bunch, and Tandy had open bite wounds and bite scares from head to toe.  Yet as I interviewed Begg over the phone about her new housemate, Tandy sleeping snores could be heard through the receiver!  It sounded like Tandy is settling in, and this is perhaps the first time in her life she felt safe enough to relax, sleep and snore.

Several of the dogs are still receiving medical care at Cambie Animal Hospital in Vancouver.  One beautiful red-colored pit bull was found to have an old bite injury to her front leg that became infected right down to the bone.  She is now named Scarlet for her beautiful color, and is responding well to antibiotics according to Begg.   As soon as Scarlet is released from the hospital, a foster home will be waiting for her.  Begg said that her organization was able to find 23 foster homes in 24 hours thanks to Twitter and Facebook announcements. The HugABull volunteers sure rallied for this rescue, but now what?

Now is the hard part.  New foster parents will take care of the adult pit bulls for 30 days to de-stress the dogs and help them learn to live indoors.  The puppies will require a considerable veterinary care and mange treatments, so it may be up to three months before they are up for adoption.   But most of all, the stress and violence that these poor animals have been through will require a 10-fold amount of kindness and love to help them recover from the emotional consequences of living in a puppy mill.

I am particularly grateful to organizations like HugABull and Bully Buddies because pit bulls and other bully breeds occupy a strange place in our society.  On one hand ownership of such breeds to extraordinarily restricted in Delta and Richmond where such dogs must be muzzled and live in heavily confined areas.  Yet simultaneously, this same breed is popular amongst back-yard breeder because the public will buy the puppies for hundreds of dollars.  Currently the fad of owning these blue-colored pit bulls appears to have lead to this particular case of backyard breeding.   Yet, currently, our laws only work to restrict the innocent lives of these animals, and not the people who cause them to be born and raised in cruel conditions.  As a community, I hope we can act to change this.

If you would like to help HugABull to heal and care for these precious dogs, donations can be made through the HugABull website ( or you can donate directly to Cambie Animal Hospital ((604) 321-6600) to help with HugABull’s veterinary costs.  HugABull is also in need of high-quality puppy food for the 19 puppies in their care. If you have a donation of puppy food, please contact the Society at

Christie Lagally is freelance pet writer who lives in Richmond.

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“Ready for Liftoff” by NASA Public Affairs

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My favorite pet writer ~ James Herriot

Since I was quite young, my favorite writer has been James Herriot. He was a veterinarian who worked in the Yorkshire Dales in the UK, and spent much of his time rescuing and helping to rehome stray or abused animals. To this point he wrote:

“I had often thought when I encountered cruelty and neglect that there was a whole army of people who did these unspeakable things, a great unheeding horde who never spared a thought for the feelings of the helpless creatures who depended on them. It was frightening in a way, but thank heavens there was another army who fought for the animals with everything they had–with their energy, their time, their money.” ~James Herriots Dog Stories

As it is today, we still need that army. Let’s find out more about them, and recruit a few helpers to the ranks.

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