Helping People, Helping Pets

Posted by: Kathy Powelson Tags: There is no tags | Categories: News



The human-animal bond is a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that is influenced by behaviours that are essential to the health and well-being of both. This includes, but is not limited to, emotional, psychological and physical interactions of people, animals and the environment.

In some circumstances, a pet is the only constant and comforting companion an individual has in their life. Pets can have a very positive impact on an individual’s emotional well-being, so much so, that they will choose this companionship over accessing much-needed services and/or housing. Caring for their pets maintains a sense of purpose and attachment while the exchange of affection and compassion can soften even the most difficult and vulnerable of circumstances. Understandably, the loss of a beloved pet at any time, but especially during times of crisis, can exacerbate feelings of hopelessness, depression and anxiety.

More and more, social services and animal welfare professionals are recognizing that they cannot help people without helping their pets—and they cannot help pets in a sustainable way if they are not helping their people as well.

• Anti-violence organizations and women’s shelters are now engaging in conversations about how they can better support women with pets who are in violent relationships. These women will often not seek shelter as they will not leave their pets behind in violent or abusive situations.
• Lack of affordable and pet-friendly housing is resulting in a constantly increasing number of families being forced to decide between their pets and a place to live—regardless of their financial means.
• Many British Columbians live paycheque to paycheque and a sickness, accident or other unexpected life event may make it temporarily difficult for an individual or family to provide for their much-loved pet.

There is a myriad of ways someone’s life can quickly unravel, and if this person also has pets, getting the supports they need to get them back on their feet, while still keeping and caring for their pet, is incredibly difficult, if not impossible.

Currently, the service community tends to be divided into those focused on helping pets (animal welfare) and those focused on helping people (social services)—and the vast majority of this work is done separately. Both social service and animal welfare organizations operate with limited resources, and many are only able to respond to the immediate and pressing needs of their clients—neither have the financial or human resources to create an additional layer of service.

Meeting the need to support homeless and low income families with financial aid for veterinary care is currently unmanageable.


When someone is no longer able to care for their pet, the burden for the well-being of this animal is placed on the animal welfare community which include volunteer-run rescues, donor-funded BC SPCA shelters and municipal government-run shelters supported by taxpayers. Despite the significant needs of companion animals and the important role they play in people’s lives, there is no government funding to support animal welfare and rescue organizations in B.C.

The reluctance of many shelters to take in animals with medical and/or behavioural issues places an enormous strain on the volunteer-run rescue community dependent on donor support.


Communities in the north, and other remote regions in the province, are often not equipped to address the needs of owned pets in their community because of lack of veterinary services and little to no presence of animal welfare or rescue organizations. In addition, many communities across the province have large numbers of feral community cats and free roaming dogs. This lack of animal welfare services and inability to manage free-roaming companion animals can affect the overall health status of communities when populations of unhealthy animals are present.

Animal welfare professionals recognize that a focus solely on the animal in need in these circumstances keeps the severely underfunded rescue organizations constantly in crisis mode without any capacity to create more sustainable proactive solutions.


A deep and life-enhancing bond between many pets and their human guardians exists regardless of economic or health status. When pet guardians live within either temporary or permanent vulnerable circumstances of low income or homelessness, pets can suffer from lack of adequate healthcare. When individuals choose to forego social services, including healthcare and housing, because of their bond with their pets, those individuals may suffer increased health and safety risks. Clearly, the challenge lies in how to best serve people with pets as a unit, in order to avoid breaking their bond.


The solution to the growing problem associated with people and their pets is to create an integrated service program that brings the social services and animal welfare sectors together—and Paws for Hope Animal Foundation is uniquely qualified to lead the way. Our Animal Welfare Advisory Network of BC (AWANBC) is bringing animal welfare organizations in B.C. together to address issues impacting communities across the province. We currently have strong relationships across the social services sector, including the Federation of Community Social Services BC (a member-based organization representing over 140 social service agencies in B.C.).

Paws for Hope aims address this gap by creating a program that can:
• respond to supporting the needs of pets whose people are in crisis;
• reduce barriers to access for service for people with pets;
• provide animal care training and support to social service staff;
• provide options to increase the likelihood pets can stay with their people and out of the shelter/rescue system.

To begin, we will need to meet with social service agencies across the province to identify what supports and services already exist, and what services are needed to support their clients with pets. These service needs may include:
• Emergency compassionate care
• Funding support for veterinary care
• Education regarding responsible pet guardianship
• Training for shelter staff on basis of animal care
• Behaviour consultations / training support
• Housing

We will also work with our animal welfare partners to identify the supports and services that are required and/or need to be enhanced.

There is a lot of work to be done, and you can join us in this exciting endeavour by making a one time or monthly donation.

The Top Three Reasons Why NOT To Gift a Pet for Christmas

Posted by: Kathy Powelson Tags: There is no tags | Categories: News


Our Vice-President Breanna and Lucy have an important message to share with you this holiday season on why gifting pets at Christmas is a bad idea.


The holidays are a busy time of year. We are often coming and going, more often than usual, from our homes to festive celebrations, shopping etc. When bringing a new pet into your home it is important for them to have your attention so that you and your new family member can create a trustworthy bond. This can be a very stressful time for pets, and an extra busy household that is full of excitement can make the transition process very difficult. If you are adopting a young animal the training required can be very time consuming and some animals require lots of exercise. Training should start immediately, not after the holidays are over. Most of us don’t have a spare moment during the holiday season, making if very difficult to find the time to train. The best way to alleviate the stress and fear a pet may have coming into your home is be home as often as you can, keep a consistent schedule and maintain a calm environment.


Gifting someone a pet for a present is just a bad idea. Choosing the right pet is a very personal decision and not one to be made by someone other than the new adoptive parent/family. Picking the right pet personality to suit you/your families is something for you and only you to do. Pets are not products, they are living creatures, like us, and they should NEVER be sold in a retail setting and purchased as presents. Even if adopting from a local shelter or rescue, gifting a pet gives the wrong impression, especially to children, that this new pet is a toy. You want your children to understand the responsibilities of caring for an animal and for your new pet to not end up being ignored after the novelty wears off.
Hold off bringing a pet home from a shelter and head on down to your best friend’s chocolatier and by them a box instead! Or give them a gift certificate for a pet adoption after the holidays are over.


Deciding to expand your family to include a pet is also committing to taking on the financial responsibility that comes along with them, much of which is unforeseen. This may not be fully thought through if you decide on a whim to adopt during the holidays as you are swept up in the magical time of year and decide to help a pet in need and bring home an animal from your local shelter. Purchasing or adopting an animal is a costly decision, from food, litter, regular and emergency veterinary care (like when your Pitbull Lucy gets pneumonia from eating goose poop!). And let’s not forget the pets who will require walkers, daycare and will need somewhere like a boarding kennel or pet sitter when you take your annual vacation or frequent business trips. Please fully consider all of the responsibilities that go along with having a pet any time of the year.


Giving an animal the gift of a forever home is a wonderful gift, but if you celebrate the holidays, the best thing you can do is wait until your festivities are over. If you are having a hard time waiting and feel like you want to give to animals this holiday season, consider making a donation/volunteering at the animal charity of your choice or the shelter you anticipate meeting your new pet at in 2018. As a board member for Paws for Hope Animal Foundation, I can personally attest to the personal rewards volunteering brings.

Happy Howlidays to you all, I wish you and yours the very best this season!

Breanna Laubach
Paws for Hope Animal Foundation

PS: Of course, if you would like to help animals most in need during the holidays, you can do so by donating to us!

Volunteer Research Assistant Opportunity

Posted by: Kathy Powelson Tags: There is no tags | Categories: News


Position Title: Research Assistant, Youth Programs

Term: November 1, 2017 – May 31, 2017 (six months)

Reports to: Executive Director

Position Summary:

To work with the Executive Director to produce a report on youth programming and services related to animal welfare.

Roles & responsibilities

  • Conduct a literature review and collect other program, evaluation and policy information related to animal welfare youth programming and services.
  • Analyze the efficacy and reported outcomes of programs.
  • Produce a final report.
  • Position Requirements

  • Qualitative research experience
  • Academic writing experience
  • Home office
  • Able to work independently and as part of a team
  • Access to academic database is preferred
  • An interest in youth issues and/or animal welfare
  • Please note this is a volunteer opportunity

    Please send cover letter and resume to Kathy Powelson at by 4pm on October 20, 2017.

    Connection & Collaboration : AWANBC Conference

    Posted by: Kathy Powelson Tags: There is no tags | Categories: News



    8:30am – 4:00pm

    Fairmont Hotel, 900 West Georgia Street, Vancouver

    Keynote Address: Elizabeth Jensen, Best Friends Society

    Guest Speakers & Workshop:

    Jan Hannah, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Northern Dogs Program

    Why does diversity lead to better decisions?
    Jackie Wepruk, General Manager, National Farm Animal Care Council

    Workshop: Communication Essentials for Animal Welfare Organizations

    Refreshments and lunch included.

    $50 AWANBC members*
    $75 Non-members

    *Member price is available to all AWANBC members in good standing as of October 15.
    To submit your membership application, visit


    Ask Surrey to ban the retail sale of puppies, kittens and rabbits ~ Sign Petition

    Posted by: Kathy Powelson Tags: There is no tags | Categories: News


    Pets Are Not Products

    Ask Surrey to ban the retail sale of puppies, kittens and rabbits

    On Monday, September 11 we will be presenting before Mayor and Council to ask the City of Surrey to follow the lead of Vancouver, New Westminster, Richmond and over 200 other cities across Canada and the United States and ban the retail sale of puppies, kittens and rabbits.

    We can no longer ignore what we know about breeding mills and backyard breeders, and the devastating suffering this inhumane business practice causes.

    Add your voice and let Mayor and Council know you want to Surrey to stand up for animals. Sign the petition and share.

    [emailpetition id=”2″ width=”500px”]


    Thank you for speaking out for companion animals.

    [signaturelist id=”2″]

    Letter to Nanaimo City Council & Staff

    Posted by: Kathy Powelson Tags: There is no tags | Categories: News


    Dear Mayor McKay and Council,

    I am writing on behalf of Paws for Hope Animal Foundation to respond to the delegation presentation and subsequent questions of councillors regarding the BC SPCA’s correspondence requesting a ban on the retail sale of cats and dogs on Monday, August 14, 2017.

    Paws for Hope Animal Foundation maintains that the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits is an animal welfare issue, and supports the growing movement across the U.S. and Canada in which cities (currently over 200) have prohibited the sale of these animals, unless they are through a qualified rescue organization.

    At issue,

  • During his presentation to council, Paws N Jaws owner, Mr. Bender stated that because he found 39 cats being sold on Kijiji, Craigslist and Used Nanaimo that there is not an overabundance of cats needing homes to justify a ban on their retail sale. He estimated that number represents 1 kitten for every 7500 residents of Nanaimo. If Nanaimo’s population is roughly 90,000, 39 kittens is actually 1 for every 2300 residents, and 1 for every 900 residents that would statistically have cats. He failed to include the fact that, on average, only 39% of Canadian households have cats and, more importantly, he failed to mention the hundreds of cats with local and regional rescue organizations, municipal shelters and the BC SPCA that are available for adoption. At the time of writing, Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association alone has 125 cats and kittens available for adoption. He also failed to mention the hundreds of cats and kittens abandoned and left to fend for themselves every year. It is a fact that there is an overabundance of cats in every community in BC.
  • Mr. Bender maintains he does not source his puppies from puppy mills but refuses to provide the identity of the breeders from whom he sources his puppies and kittens. This raises serious concerns about the breeding practices of those who are selling their puppies and kittens to him to sell at a profit in his store. No reputable breeder sells their animal through a pet store. It is neither physically nor economically possible for a breeder to supply the quantities of animals required to sustain his pet sales while raising those animals in conditions that meet their health and behavioural needs. In addition, reputable breeders, whether they are certified or not, screen potential families themselves to ensure their animals are going to the best home possible. They also require that at any time in that animal’s life, if the new family is not able to provide adequate care, the animals are returned to the breeder. Neither of these processes take place when anyone can purchase any pet on the spot in a retail store. The contract signed is meaningless— there is no screening done, nor is there follow up.
  • Councillor Fuller took issue with the BC SPCA’s statement that the Canadian Kennel Club and Cat Fancier Association members are not allowed to sell their pets through a pet store, because according to Councillor Fuller, “not everyone can afford a purebred”. He further shared that his husky cost $800 and not everyone can afford that. It should be noted that puppies at Paws N Jaws are currently being sold for between, $1,000-1,600 — double what Councillor Fuller paid for his purebred husky.
  • Mr. Bender conceded that his animals are left alone overnight, despite the acknowledgement, in his own store’s contract with purchasers, that this is not best for the welfare of the puppies. If the store closes a 6:00pm, and does not open again until 9:30 the next morning, those puppies and kittens are left alone in a small glass box for 15 ½ hours every day. At this developmental age for puppies and kittens, this is cruel and can lead to both health (lack of adequate feeding and not living in sanitary conditions) and behavioural problems (lack of adequate socialization).
  • Mr. Bender contends that puppies make up 40% of sales and if a ban was passed, he would go out of business and have to default on his lease. Given there are hundreds of pet stores across the province that do not sell animals—there clearly exists a proven and profitable business model for Mr. Bender that does not involve the sale of puppies and kittens.
  • I have attached more detailed, information letter on the issue of pet sales in stores.

    The time has come to end this inhumane business practice, exploiting companion animals for profit. The vast majority of Nanaimo residents do not want to see cats, dogs and rabbits sold in pet stores. Nanaimo City Council has an obligation to all residents, not only small business owners.

    Kind Regards,

    Kathy Powelson
    Executive Director

    Tell Nanaimo to prohibit the sale of cats, dogs and rabbits in stores!

    Posted by: Kathy Powelson Tags: There is no tags | Categories: News


    You did it! You wrote letters. You demonstrated. You spoke for the animals that suffer in breeding mills and the City of Vancouver listened.

    On June 28, 2017 Vancouver City Council voted unanimously to ban the retail sale of cats, dogs and rabbits. Vancouver now joins the City of New Westminster (cats, dogs and rabbits) and Richmond (dogs and rabbits), along with over 200 cities across the United States and Canada that are taking a stand against this inhumane business practice.

    And now, we want Nanaimo to ban the retail sale of puppies, kittens and rabbits. Nanaimo is one of the few BC municipalities that has a store that sells cats, dogs and rabbits and we want it to stop!

    Let your voice be heard. On August 14, 2017 Nanaimo City Council will be discussing a motion to ban the retail sale of cats, dogs and rabbits. Now is the time to send a letter to Mayor McKay and Council and let them now you support this motion. You can find an online sample letter here or Word document here.

    Your emails made a difference in Vancouver—it’s time to make a difference in Nanaimo.
    Send an email to all:

    You can also mail your letter to:
    455 Wallace Street
    Nanaimo, BC V9R 5J6

    We worked very hard to get a ban in Vancouver, and we were successfully because of you! Let’s keep fighting!

    Help us tell Delta that Pets Are Not Products!

    Posted by: Kathy Powelson Tags: There is no tags | Categories: News


    Pets Are Not Products

    You did it! You wrote letters. You demonstrated. You spoke for the animals that suffer in breeding mills and the City of Vancouver listened.

    On June 28, 2017 Vancouver City Council voted unanimously to ban the retail sale of cats, dogs and rabbits. Vancouver now joins the City of New Westminster (cats, dogs and rabbits) and Richmond (dogs and rabbits), along with over 200 cities across the United States and Canada that are taking a stand against this inhumane business practice.

    And now, we want Delta to ban the retail sale of puppies, kittens and rabbits. Over the years, we have heard many stories of sick puppies purchased from Puppies, Fish and Critters and we want the suffering to stop!

    Let your voice be heard. Send a letter to Mayor Jackson and Council and ask them to ban the retail sale of cats, dogs and rabbits. You can find an online sample letter here or Word document here.

    Your emails made a difference in Vancouver—it’s time to let Delta know Pets Are Not Products.

    Send an email to all: Delta City Councillors

    You can also mail your letter to:
    4500 Clarence Taylor Crescent, Delta, BC V4K 3E2

    We worked very hard to get a ban in Vancouver, and we were successfully because of you! Let’s keep fighting!

    Keeping pets with their families and saving lives

    Posted by: Kathy Powelson Tags: There is no tags | Categories: News


    We keep pets with their families. We keep pets out of the shelters. We save lives.

    Our Roxy’s Relief program provides support to homeless and low income pet guardians so they can receive critical veterinary care for their pet. Their pet is often their one constant companion in an otherwise isolated life. By helping their pets get veterinary care, guardians do not have to consider surrendering them to a shelter, and sometimes—this veterinary care saves a life.

    Pets get to stay with their guardians

    We first met Pazuzu when he and his brother Cane came to our One Health pilot project—a partnership with Community Veterinary Outreach.

    After the free clinic, the brothers were neutered through our SpayAid BC program.


    A few months later we received a call from Pazuzu’s mom. Pazuzu had accidentally ingested rat poison and was in urgent need of emergency veterinary care.

    We arranged for Pazuzu to go to Scottsdale Veterinary Clinic. This was the worst case of poisoning they had seen, and doctors and staff worked around the clock to save his life.

    A life saved

    After four days, he was well enough to go home but would have to return over the next couple of months for blood tests to ensure his organs were functioning well.

    This week we received an email from his mom and are delighted to hear that Pazuzu is doing excellent, enjoying life and taking time to stop and smell the flowers!

    Youth and their pets

    We know from McCreary Centre Society’s research, “Connections and Companionship: The health of BC youth with pets, the bond between marginalized youth and their pet is often a very significant aspect of their life—one that encourages healthy decision-making such as attending school and being physically active. Helping young people and their pets improves the lives of both the youth and their furry companion. Healthy pets creates healthy communities.

    We can only do this because of you. When you give, animals get the help they need. When you give, a life is saved.

    Donate today and a pet just like Pazuzu will get a second chance.

    Making cruelty-free choices everyday

    Posted by: Kathy Powelson Tags: There is no tags | Categories: News


    This month we are promoting our Cruelty Free BC campaign with a contest to encourage people to purchase cosmetics, household and pet products that have not been tested on animals. It’s also important to make sure the ingredients for these products have also not been tested on animals. When you take the pledge this month, you enter to win one of many great product sets from local certified cruelty-free companies.

    We all lead busy lives and many of us don’t give much thought when shopping for groceries or toiletries that what we are purchasing could be supporting animal cruelty in some way. Thankfully it is increasingly easier to make cruelty free choices. While our Cruelty Free BC campaign focuses on cosmetics, household and pet products, we advocate for the humane treatment of all animals and encourage people to be conscious of where their food comes from. From groceries, to cosmetics, pet grooming and cleaning products, these are a few recommendations I find helpful for making cruelty-free choices easier every day.

  • Buy meat from organic local farmers who raise their animals in open pastures to support our communities and help fight factory farms.
  • Buy organic eggs that come from farms that allow their hens to roam in their natural environment.
  • When purchasing toiletries, cleaning products and cosmetics, be aware of companies that conduct animal testing or have grey policies when it comes to being cruelty free.
  • There are so many great certified cruelty-free brands out there. Sephora carries several high end cruelty-free brands including some of my personal favourites; Becca Cosmetics (best highlighter), Anastasia Beverly Hills (best contour pallet) and Too Faced (best mascara).
    For drug store brands Wet N Wild, Marcelle, Hard Candy and e.l.f. are all cruelty-free choices.
    Even your doggie grooming goods can be cruelty-free and local with great products from Black Sheep Organics.
    Lastly, don’t forget about cruelty-free household cleaning products, one of my favourites is Nellie’s All Natural —a local BC company.

    In Canada and the U.S. all that is required for a company to label their products cruelty-free is to have the final product not be tested on animals, regardless of whether all of the individual ingredients have been tested on animals. With little regulation on cruelty-free labeling in Canada and the U.S., it can be difficult to know if the product you are buying is genuinely cruelty-free. Products that have been certified cruelty-free by a third party, such as Leaping Bunny or PETA are the best way to know you are purchased a cruelty-free products. Beagle Freedom Project’s Cruelty-Cutter app helps take the guess work out it. All you have to do is scan a product when shopping to ensure that you are making a cruelty-free choice. The app also has a new feature that tells you if a brand is part of a larger parent organization that may support testing. With this app making cruelty-free choices in your everyday life is easier than ever!

    Join us this month and make a Pledge to Shop Cruelty Free to Win with the Animals, and you will be entered to win some great local cruelty-free products, like AG Hair products!

    Jeannette Hill

    Cruelty Free BC Pledge