The Problem

British Columbia has a homeless animal problem. Shelters across the province are always at capacity with cats, and small animal rescue groups struggle to keep up with the number of surrendered and abandoned small animals, such as rats, hamsters, guinea pigs and rabbits. There are over 170 volunteer run rescue organizations in the province dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming dogs.

Remote and northern communities struggle the most with dealing with free-roaming (owned and unowned) dogs. Conservative estimates point to there being over 2,000 female dogs a year in the North alone having litters—further adding to the problem. This does not include the number of unspayed females in the interior or coastal communities.

Many of these communities are hours away from the nearest veterinary clinic. Even in communities that do have veterinary care, those who are low income earners, cannot afford to access the services available. When the free-roaming dog problem grows too large in a community, it is not uncommon for dogs to be shot, drowned, starved or abandoned. A few communities have placed bounties on dogs.

Cats and kittens are abandoned at alarming rates, and while many perceive cats to be more independent than dogs, when abandoned and forced to fend for themselves, they suffer greatly. Feral and free roaming cats are a problem in communities across the province, not just remote and northern communities. Trap, neuter and release (TNR) programs have successfully reduced, and in some communities, eliminated feral colonies. But more needs to be done, as cats continue to be lost and abandoned, and many communities struggle to respond (if at all) to the rising number of homeless cats and kittens.

Very few shelters take in rabbits and small animals, and those that do have a limit to the number they are able/willing to take. There are also a small handful of rescue organizations that take in rabbits and small animals, which leaves them overburdened with the hundreds of rabbits and small animals surrendered and abandoned each year. It is difficult to capture a sense of the actual numbers. In communities with a healthy coyote population, these critters are preyed upon. Eagles, and other birds of prey, likely also prey upon small animals before they are seen and rescued.

The Solution

At Paws for Hope, we believe priority should be given to the welfare of these animals, and resources should be spent on helping communities reduce their overpopulation problems through community development, education and access to spay and neuter services. In addition, we encourage partnerships and programs that help transfer animals to areas with larger populations where they have a greater chance of being adopted.
Our goal is to work with our partners across the province to create sustainable solutions to animal overpopulation and homelessness, with a focus on under-served, remote, and northern communities

Organizations working in or with remote, northern and under-served communities

Canadian Animal Assistance Team
Lakes Animal Friendship Society
Spirits’ Mission
Vancouver Island Dogs Rescue Society
Northern Animal Rescue Alliance
Northwest Animal Shelter
Cariboo Companion Animal Rescue and Rehab Society
Kitimat Humane Society
Big Heart Rescue
Crooked Leg Ranch
Cross Our Paws Rescue
West Coast Rottweiler Rescue
Victoria Humane Society
Small Animal Rescue Society of British Columbia
Broken Promises Animal Rescue
Katie’s Place Animal Shelter
Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association
Delta Community Animal Shelter
Vancouver Animal Shelter

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