For most of us in the western world, this time of year is a time for reflection. A time, and an opportunity, to make goals, to start something new, to get reinvigorated, and, create changes with a sense of excitement and optimism.
And for us at Paws for Hope, it is a great opportunity to look back at what we have accomplished, where we faced challenges, and to reconfirm our commitment to make the next year an even better one for animals in our province, and around the world.
This is also a perfect time to thank everyone who has supported us. Without our volunteers, donors and corporate sponsors, none of this would have been possible. Without the support of the animal rescue community, our programs and campaigns would not have reached as many as they have. On a personal level, it is also a time to be grateful for the love and support we receive from our family and friends. As a new mum, I would not be able to dedicate the time and energy I do towards this work if it were not for such a supportive and understanding partner. Our home is rarely spotless, and it is often him in the kitchen. When I do socialize, it is almost always with fellow rescue folks, and never involves a really nice meal and fancy drinks. But I wouldn’t change anything. It is not sacrificing when you cannot imagine anything else that would fill you up as much as this work does. Sometimes you are full of anger and frustration. Sometimes it’s a sadness so overwhelming you think you have nothing left to give, but then something amazing happens – a life is saved, a wound is healed, a law is changed…a mind is changed – and it was all worth it.
This past year has been one of tremendous growth for us.
Our Guardian Angel Program, that provides support to qualified animal rescue charities continues to grow, and remains our top priority. To help inform our grant decisions, and provide transparency in our decision making, we formed a Grant Committee with members of the rescue community. Our grants program was able to provide financial support to HugABull Advocacy and Rescue Society, Small Animal Rescue Society, Dogwood Rescue and Hearts on Noses: A mini pig sanctuary.
It is our goal to expand our reach and, provide support to more animal charities in 2014 to help ensure no animals in need are turned away.
Roxy’s Relief, our program that supports homeless, and low income pet guardians partnered with two more service agencies to allow us to expand our reach. In Vancouver, we are now also supporting Lookout shelters, and in New Westminster, seniors with pets are connected to us through our partnership Senior Services Society. We also held two free Animal Health Clinics, helping close to 60 pets.
In 2014, we will continue our commitment to ensuring vulnerable populations are provided with the support they need to keep their pets healthy and safe.
For two years, we have been advocating for a ban on retail sale of pets. Last year, our Pets Are Not Products campaign continued to lobby Burnaby City Council to implement a bylaw that would end this inhumane business practice. Despite overwhelming support from the community, Council voted to continue selling all animals, except turtles. This was a very disappointing and difficult decision for all of us to understand . It was so demoralizing to listen to the owners of the two pet stores in Burnaby who sell animals to accuse the rescue community of being self interest groups who are trying to get rid of the competition; to listen to them insists their puppies do not come from mills, and that their cats are rescues, and for all but one council member vote in support of them.
But we have not given up, and thanks to the generous support of a long time supporter and BearCat Consulting,the artistic talent of Alicia Carvhalho, the marketing and branding super powers of Kirstin Gulbransen, and enthusiasm of our volunteers we designed and distributed postcards and posters throughout the Lower Mainland to remind people during the gift giving seasons that Pets Are Not Products
We will continue to share this message in 2014, and don’t be surprised if we end up on the news!
An important part of building sustainable animal welfare in BC is to make it a priority for the community. In order for it to be a priority, we need people to be talking about it, and to provide opportunities for people to learn and discuss emerging issues. We were very excited to host our first conference event to start a discussion, with our keynote luncheon with Josey Kitson, executive director, WSPA Canada. Along with special guest, Bif Naked, we welcomed over 50 guest from as far as Burns Lake to this engaging discussion of “Supporting Animal Welfare: In your local community and abroad”.
We are excited to start 2014 with a seminar for veterinary and rescue professionals on Compassion Fatigue. More details and registration information to be announced in early January.
Another way we engaged the community in thinking about and discussing issues important to our favourite companions was through our poster series. Our Crazy About Cats and Seniors posters have touched the minds and hearts our social media networks. All posters can be downloaded here
With less than two days left of the year, I feel very proud with all that we have accomplished and look forward to an even more awesome 2014. If you have recently donated to us, thank you! None of this amazing stuff would be possible if it were not for people like you.
If you would like to end the year with a gift to the animals, you can do so with a simple click
On behalf of the Board of Directors, have a very Happy New Year!