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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