Archive for August, 2010

Tracking bylaw progress and speaking out via the BC SPCA website

So this is cool!  The BC SPCA has a website that tracks the current progress of bylaw reform in cities all over BC.  Check it out here:

This website also allows you to email your city council on the current bylaw reform issue relevant for your city.  A special thanks to Geoff Urton at the BC SPCA for sending this my way.


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Learning the lessons of canine care from Calgary

The Hugabull Advocacy and Rescue Society is hosting Calgary’s Animal Control and Bylaw director to speak about the success of Calgary’s animal control and dog safety education policies.  Find out more here on the Hugabull website.

Curious about how Calgary made changes to from having over 1000 dog bites per year to less than 150?  Check out the details here.

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Hansel and Gretel @

Click here for original Richmond News article.

Not everyone is ready to adopt a pet. It takes a commitment to care for an animal for the rest of his or her life.

For students or people who may move or expect other big life changes, it’s not the best time to make that commitment. Nevertheless, for those who love animals, the draw to care for them is still there. So here is an excellent opportunity for the public to foster pregnant or nursing cats and kittens a few months before the sweet, furry babies and mothers are adopted to new homes.

The Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA) is a registered charity that rescues pregnant cats and orphaned kittens from much of the Metro Vancouver area.

But this year, their rescue is packed full with more than 300 cats or kittens waiting for a temporary home prior to being adopted. This is where you may be able to help.

VOKRA is looking for people to foster either a pregnant or nursing, mother cat, with groups of two or three kittens that need some care and socialization prior to adoption or an adult cat waiting for the right home.

VOKRA does not operate a shelter. They depend entirely on volunteer foster parents to share their home with some cats needing temporary shelter. VOKRA provides you with the food, litter and medical care for the cats and kittens, and just asks that you be able to pick up the felines to take them to your home if you can. If you foster a mother-cat-to-be, you will be provided with a handbook on signs to watch for when the little kittens are on their way into the world and how to care for the mother and new kittens.

VOKRA is looking for foster homes that are quiet and preferably have no other animals in the house or where the animals live in a different part of the home.

For a mother cat, the best place to keep her is in a spare bathroom where she can be safe and secure, and the room can be easily cleaned.

All cats and kittens should be kept someplace where they can’t escape out of fear or confusion from their new surroundings.

It’s important that all the members of the household agree to foster the felines, but one adult should be in charge of the operation and liaise with VOKRA.

Richmond resident Maria Law decided fostering with VOKRA might work for her, and she started by fostering two young kittens of just six weeks of age.

One black and white and one gray and white, Law named her new charges Hansel and Gretel. Both kittens have cute little dots on their noses. Law says it only takes about a half-hour a day to feed the kittens and clean their litter box, and the rest of the time she spends with them is playtime. Law also says it’s important to train the kittens not to bite your ankles and scratch you, and this training helps them to become wonderful adult cats.

Law has had the kittens for four weeks now, and it’s time for them to be adopted. Law sent in pictures of the kittens for the VOKRA website and wrote biographies about the personalities of the little fur balls.

I asked Law if it would be difficult to say goodbye when the kittens are adopted.

“Well,” she said, “it’s kind of like seeing you kids off when they get married. You’re so happy to see the kittens go to good homes.”

So do you think you could be a good foster parent or grandparent?

Check out the VOKRA website for more information and an application. Hansel and Gretel are up on the website too, along with all the kittens for adoption.

Moreover, VOKRA has wonderful adult cats for adoption who often get over-looked amongst all the kittens.

But these adult cats make wonderful companions.

Check out their photos and biographies as well on the VOKRA website.

Christie Lagally is a volunteer pet columnist. View her blog at
© Copyright (c) Richmond News

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If you haven’t heard of “Maddie’s Fund” take a good look!

Maddie’s Fund is behind some of the most successful and widely known shelters in North America primarily because they are dedicated to making shelters no-kill and doing it well. This organization offers grants for pet/shelter/rescue related projects to help groups become and support efforts to remain no-kill.   See No Kill Nation.

I was particularly interested in the editorials provided by the website on the community support for a no-kill sheltering.  See this article on Making the Community No-kill.

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A lesson in honesty for us all: Crown drops charges against Toronto Humane Society

This morning news outlets are buzzing that the 46 Ontario SPCA charges of animal cruelty against the Toronto Humane Society have been dropped.  The crown prosecutor decided that the evidence collected in a 56 day search of the Humane Society could not be used because the Ontario SPCA invited media to attend and hired a PR consulting firm to either raise the profile of the case or simply handle the media — depending on whose side of the story you believe.  See this in-depth report.

This is a very sad story, not just because of the magnitude of the cruelty charges, but the fact that the issues in the case won’t be considered in court due to the SPCA’s media relations choices to publicize the event too widely and film the arrests of staff at the Toronto shelter.  This situation is such a lesson to us all in choosing to be honest about the cruelty issues that we see, but collecting our evidence diligently and accurately and not in a sensationalist manner. The Ontario SPCA may have presented plenty of evidence to charge those involved in the case, and the media would have covered the story regardless of whether they were invited by the OSPCA.

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Help Ocean Dog Rescue resume their adoptions from Taiwan

Ocean Dog Rescue is a wonderful organization that works to bring stray, neglected and abused dogs from Taiwan and place them in good homes in the Vancouver/Richmond area.  They have helped many animals through, but they are now having some difficulty with some of’s change in policies.

To correct this administrative problem, Ocean Dog Rescue has started a petition to show Petfinder that many people support overseas adoptions to help homeless animals.

Please take a moment to read and sign the petition. It only take a few minutes and you’ll be helping Ocean Dog Rescue make a difference around the world!

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Victoria, BC catching up with bunny bylaw, other cities close behind!

Victoria, BC, after years to controversy over the ubiquitous ‘UVic’ rabbits are finally catching up with Richmond and New Westminster to ban the sale of unsterilized rabbits in pet stores.  See the Vancouver Sun.  Luckily, while they are working on the bylaw, city councilors are looking at further animal welfare laws, including mandatory spay/neuter for cats, and other bylaws to protect animals. (Photo:  Jeanie the rabbit at the Richmond Animal Shelter).

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New Page: Resources for Animal Welfare Organizations

Launched!  My new web page off of the “Sniffing Out Home” website is now up and running.  Check out Resources for Animal Welfare Organizations!

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Shelters helping shelters via the Humane Society of the US

100 dogs from the Gulf coast of the US were sent on a journey to a new home.  Check out this wonderful story from the Humane Society of the US.

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Greyhaven, Pepper and Jamais

Richmond News article on Aug. 11, 2010

It happens almost daily. Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary is contacted to take pet bird that someone is surrendering.   It seems that people purchase these birds without really knowing the time and dedication required for their care or the lifespan of these ‘precious souls’ — some of which can live up to 80 years and often live as long as 20 or 30 years.

Greyhaven is a non-profit society operating a bird sanctuary where they care for homeless birds until just the right adoptive home can be found.  Considering all the contact I’ve had with domestic animals and the rescue groups that take them in, I was dismayed at my lack of knowledge about the plight of homeless, domestic birds.  But last year Greyhaven admitted 214 birds into their adoption program, and as many of 96 birds this year alone.  Many more are on the waiting list for assistance from Greyhaven, but the sanctuary cannot accommodate every single one.  The sanctuary currently is housing up to 40 birds including cockatiels, budgies and love birds.  There are even more Greyhaven birds in foster homes.

I’m told that many of these surrendered birds come from either pet stores or from people who have bred their birds and don’t realize that there are already a multitude of homeless pet birds in our community. Birds are also admitted from people that are unable to care for them any longer due to life changes or allergies, and the society’s volunteers are happy when someone decides to entrust their feathered loved ones into Greyhaven’s care.  It’s clear that the Greyhaven society is also proud of their good adoption rate and the careful adopter screening process.  But as more birds are sold to consumers who don’t know the responsibilities that are required, the issue of unwanted pet birds continues to expand and more birds are left homeless and needing Greyhaven’s help.

Last week I had an opportunity of speak with Richmond resident and foster bird parent Melanie Walker.  Walker is one of the dedicated volunteers at the Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary, and she also serves at their board President.   During our meeting, she introduced me to Pepper and Jamais — two cockatiels who have become best friends since their arrival at Melanie’s home where she fosters a few of the Greyhaven flock.

Pepper and Jamais (photo left) seemed to exude intelligence.  They were in a travel cage to come meet me, and they were quite vocal about wanting to get out and play.  An ideal adoptive home for birds like these would mean having a safe flying zone where Pepper and Jamais could fly around the room and a large cage for lots of playtime and sleeping.  But most importantly these thoughtful birds need a caretaker that has the time to love and care for these fine gentlemen for many years to come.

Greyhaven is a unique organization not just because of the unusual birds they take in but also for their persistence through the constant pressure of so many homeless birds since the society’s start in 1998.  For many years, their sanctuary was located in Surrey, before new construction forced them to move out.  Currently, the sanctuary is housed at a temporary location in Tsawwassen, but the directors and volunteers are urgently seeking just the right permanent location preferably in Richmond or surrounding municipalities.  The new sanctuary would need to be about 1500 – 2000 sq ft. connected with utilities (water, sewage, etc).  Greyhaven is also in need of dedicated volunteers to help at their temporary sanctuary.

Rescue groups like Greyhaven are staffed with dedicated individuals who pick of the pieces when pets become homeless.   As a result, these volunteers also have a clear picture of the overwhelming issues of animal homelessness.  Greyhaven volunteers work hard to educate the public about the realities of bird companions, and we need to listen to them closely.  In addition, while long-lived birds are still sold in pet stores and by breeders, we need to make sure that Greyhaven has the support they need.   If you can help Greyhaven find a new sanctuary, volunteer your time, donate or adopt please contact them at 604-878-7212 or visit their website at  Greyhaven also has an important Pet Therapy and Education Outreach Program.  See their website for more information.

Christie Lagally is a volunteer pet columnist. View her blog at

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