It’s noisy, busy and full of friendly staff and residents. The Quesnel SPCA houses all manner of animals as the staff look for forever homes for their temporary charges.
On average, the Quesnel SPCA re-homes about 1,000 animals a year. This year to date, they have completed 159 adoptions of rats to dogs to rabbits.
But their responsibilities cover so much more than just finding homes for animals. They take on injured and abandoned animals, nursing them back to health and treating many of the issues that abused animals are subject to. They clean cages, feed animals, treat conditions and help the public find just the right new family member, all under the watchful eye of branch manager Colby O’Flynn.
Helping Colby are three animal care attendants and about 12 volunteers. These volunteers are an important part of the shelter operations, however, Colby, in partnership with the BCSPCA, is looking to expand the scope of responsibilities for volunteers in order to be of more assistance to the current staff.
Right now, volunteers have limited but important opportunities to help. They deal with dog welfare with such tasks as exercising, playing and visiting with the canine critters. Volunteers also take on cat wellness with spending time with the cats and kittens, socializing shy cats (sometimes its as simple as reading to the cats so they become accustomed to human contact) and finally they assist with socializing small animals.
“In the future, we plan to offer training and a more structured program,” she said.
“With training, volunteers could assist staff with more hands-on jobs.”
Colby started out at the shelter as a summer student, then moved to community outreach before becoming an animal care attendant, then a specialist and finally took on the challenge of branch manager.
“I found this was the career for me,” she said.
“I love it.”
Colby would like to remind the public how far the SPCA has come. The BCSPCA is celebrating 121 years of operation and the Quesnel branch is proud to say the provincial mandate no longer includes routine euthanasia.
“Euthanasia is used only in extreme medical or aggression cases,” she said.
“We move animals around the province to ensure maximum adoption opportunities.”
She spoke of the Drive for Lives program which brings animals from high volume intake areas in Northern B.C. communities to communities farther south with high adoption rates. Quesnel is a transfer hub for the north, often facilitating and housing animals from the Peace River region and the Prince George to Prince Rupert corridor where there are high numbers of animals in care.
Transfers out happen on a weekly basis and transfers in to Quesnel are about every two weeks.
The branch also provides other services to the public including the PAL program. This Prevent a Litter program provides low income families spay and neutering for dogs, cats and rabbits.
The food Bank program provides assistance for people in need of animal food and supplies during difficult times.
The BC Pet Registry is a BCSPCA national database initiative for permanent identification such as tattoos and microchips.
This allows owners to quickly and easily update information on their whereabouts should they move or change their phone number or in the case of an
animal finding a new home and ensuring the new information is up-to-date.
“The important element in this program is reuniting animals with their families as quickly as possible,” she said.
When a family or individual adopts an animal from the SPCA, every animal is spayed or neutered, all its shots are up-to-date and the animal is microchipped and registered.
For those who just want to help out but aren’t in the position to adopt, the SPCA appreciates those able to foster animals, especially kittens with or without their mothers.
“This provides a safe home environment until they become of age for adoption,” Colby said.
Each year, the SPCA holds an open house which allows the public to see just what happens at the shelter and provides information.
“But we are always mindful of the impact large public crowds have on the animals, some can’t handle this type of activity and we are careful of their welfare.”
In order to pay for certain services, the SPCA has an ongoing recycling program. People are encouraged to drop off recyclable bottles and cans and the funds are dedicated to covering the cost of veterinarian bills and emergency medical treatments.
“We usually take in about $4,000 with this program and its vital to our operation.”
The SPCA is not the only animal rescue operation in the community and Colby is proud to say they all work well together.
“We all have our strengths and challenges but together we can help the maximum number of animals.”
When Colby was asked about her ongoing wish list, she had no trouble ticking off the most critical needs.
“We always need cleaning supplies of all descriptions; any pet supplies including food, treats and toys; bedding, towels, sheets, carpets and rugs (for the cats) as well as cat scratch posts; kiddy pools for the outside dogs on those hot summer days; and finally yard maintenance volunteers, with their own equipment to help with outside work.”
As summer approaches, Colby wanted to remind the public about the issue of animals in vehicles.
“When you witness this, make your first call to either the SPCA during the times the shelter is open or to the RCMP who are legally allowed to intervene on behalf of an animal in distress.”
There is also a BCSPCA Provincial Call Centre for animals cruelty and wildlife, 1-855-622-7722 which can certainly include hot dogs in vehicles. The call centre is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
“They will dispatch local responders and outside those hours the public is encouraged to call the RCMP.”
No matter how complicated life becomes, for those committed to the SPCA there is a simple mission – to protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C.