Maple Ridge, BC: Community-based rescue organizations across BC have been stepping up to help animals in need as shelters closed their doors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shelters across Canada have cleared out their kennels and closed intake, in response to the public health crisis, a move recommended by public health and shelter medicine experts.
Seeing the need to step up and fill the gap, community rescue organizations have leapt to the rescue of countless animals in Canada, as the world wrestled with the impact of COVID-19.
“It has been heartbreaking to see the impact of COVID-19 on rescue animals, both within BC and across Canada,” says Kathy Powelson, Executive Director of Paws for Hope Animal Foundation. “Although shelters closed their doors, the need to house and care for pets did not disappear, leaving a potential significant gap in service.”
Recognizing the need to fill this gap, community-based rescue organizations across BC stepped in as many of them already worked within a ‘virtual’ setting.
Powelson explains: “These organizations were already set up with home offices and a network of foster homes to care for animals, so our work didn’t have to dramatically change and we were well positioned to meet the needs of our communities”.
One example is Paws for Hope’s new crisis foster care program, which was modified to enable the intake of any pet needing care, whether it was owner surrender because the owner had died or temporary foster care because someone needed time to find pet friendly housing.
Other organizations, like the Victoria Humane Society, turned to its existing foster and volunteer network in order to meet the increased demand resulting from closed shelters. And organizations such as Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association and Dees Orphan Kitten Rescue Fund accommodated for the suspension in spay and neuter work by trapping pregnant feral moms to ensure their kittens would not be born wild.
“Throughout the last few weeks, community rescue organizations have stepped up at a time when the province really needed them,” says Powelson. “By adapting their processes, they have been able to avoid even more heart ache, at a time when we know people are feeling anxious. It’s inspiring to watched these grass roots organization rise to the challenge. Our province really is better off because of the work they do”.
Kathy Powelson, Executive Director