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.

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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

    Help Us Tell the City of Vancouver that Pets Are Not Products!

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


    We believe that Pets Are Not Products.

    Our goal is to end the retail sale of pets which, in turn, will help put an end to inhumane breeding mills. In the past, our attempts to engage with the City of Vancouver about this issue have been met with silence or resistance. But we have some good news! We wrote to the City last February (see full letter here), and, after some haranguing, one City Councillor has finally agreed to meet with us! On May 24, Kathy Powelson, our Executive Director, and three Board members will meet with Councillor Andrea Reimer at City Hall. We will present our case to Councillor Reimer as to why Vancouver should ban the retail sale of pets and hope to gain her support. Things are happening, and, while it is very exciting, it means we need your support now more than ever. Now is the time to speak up!

    Please take a moment to complete our brief survey –it is so quick and easy!. Even better, take a few minutes to write to Councillor Reimer ( or your Neighbourhood Councillor Liaison (which you can find here, and tell him/her that you support a ban on the sale of pets in stores. Thank you in advance for your support – we truly could not do what we do without you. Stay tuned for the outcome of our meeting with the City!

    Other ways you can help

    This week only – buy a limited edition Pets Are Not Products tee! Check out the awesome selections here.

    Share this post and challenge your friends to write City Council.

    Let’s speak up for the voiceless! Together we can make a difference.

    Rhianydd Bellis

    Going Cruelty Free: Cheryl’s reviews

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


    The process of transforming your household into a cruelty free one takes times, but with more and more available certified cruelty free products, it is achievable. Recently, we asked Cheryl, our Volunteer Coordinator, to share some of her favourite products with us.


    I was always aware that a lot of beauty products were tested on animals, but I never gave it much thought when making my purchases. I assumed that some of the products I purchased were cruelty free, either from what I saw in advertisements, or because the product was labeled cruelty free. When I started volunteering with Paws for Hope, I learned that the labeling requirement in North America make it difficult to know if you are purchasing a product that is genuinely cruelty free, because the only requirement is that the final product not be tested on animals. As a result, many products labeled cruelty free have ingredients in them that have been tested on animals. The one way to be sure your products, and their ingredients are truly cruelty free is to make sure they are certified by a third party organization. The two most prominent certifying organizations are Leaping Bunny and PETA.

    Recently I made the decision to replace each of my personal care items with cruelty free products. There is no reason to purchase a product that is tested on animals when comparable, and often better quality cruelty free products are available.

    Beagle Freedom Project’s Cruelty Cutter app is very helpful for this endeavour. Using its barcode scanning feature, you can look up a product quickly to find out if its certified cruelty free. Unfortunately, when you are looking for more than one product that is cruelty free it can be time consuming to use the app. This becomes apparent pretty quickly when shopping in big chain stores since most of the products are not cruelty free.

    Finding the right product takes time. When switching your household products to 100% cruelty free ones do not expect it to happen over night. Give yourself the time to find replacement products that you are truly happy with. As I mentioned, you will likely find products that are even better quality than the animal tested products you were accustomed to.

    Below are personal reviews of products I have tried. I hope you find them helpful!

    Dermologica is expensive but some of their products are worth it. The Essential Cleansing Solution is mositurizing, so much so you almost feel like you could skip applying moisturizer. The Precleanse is great for removing make-up, especially mascara. The Skin Perfect Primer is fantastic. It’s nice and provides light coverage (no need for foundation). The Skin Hydrating Masque leaves your face feeling soft and the rice exfoliant makes it feel smooth. One of the products that did not work for me was the Daily Gel Cleanser. It left my skin feeling too dry afterwards.

    Marc Anthony hair products and lotions are reasonably priced. I like all of the hair products I’ve tried so far. For me personally, the volumizing line worked well, whereas the moisturizing line was a bit too heavy for my fine hair. The Hydrating Coconut Oil & Shea Butter Volume hairspray smells great, but unfortunately the hairsprays only seem to come in aerosol. The Hydrating Coconut Oil & Shea Butter and Moisturizing Shea Butter & Marula Oil have nice scents, although I prefer something that moisturizes a little better. These might be good lotions for summer time.

    Burt’s Bees facial products are a good economical option. I like the Radiance eye cream and Brightening face cream, but wasn’t impressed with the Deep Pore Scrub. When it comes to exfoliators, I prefer one with smaller “beads.” I am not fond of the scent in the Coco & Cupuacu Butters body lotion, but it did work well for dry skin. The Lip Shine gloss is nice and lightweight.

    Kevin Murphy hair products are expensive but I love them. The Angel Wash shampoo for coloured hair doesn’t lather much (like most expensive shampoos I’ve tried), but your hair feels clean. The Anti Gravity Spray weightless hairspray lives up to its name. Both of these products have lovely scent. I found the scent in the purse-sized Session Spray Strong Hold Finishing Spray hairspray to be a bit too strong, and it only comes in aerosol.

    Another great thing about Kevin Murphy is the environmental packaging. Having rectangular bottles means no bubble wrap!

    European Soaps’ bar soap is not dehydrating and it lasts a long time. So far, I like the coconut scented one the best. There is an exfoliating bar but I found it to be a little too much for my liking (ouch!).

    I prefer the Method nourishing hand wash over the regular. Method products are reasonably priced and they offer large refills of the regular liquid soap.

    Tarte mascara: Lights, Camera, Flashes is good. It lengthens, and thickens and even curls lashes a bit. It is a good choice for a more natural look. I also find Tarte’s mascaras don’t tend to flake. The Skinny smolder eyes eyeliner, includes a smudging sponge and stays put after application. But it only seems to go on thick.

    Too Faced make-up line had a fantastic mascara called Lashgasm. It didn’t smudge, wasn’t flaky and provided a natural look. But I can no longer find it at Sephora. I tried their Better Than Sex mascara but found it too thick/clumpy and it flakes quite a bit.

    Tom’s of Maine antiperspirant worked well, but… it was supposed to be unscented, but whatever replaced the usual scents was not a scent I liked. I’m still looking for a good cruelty free option for this item.

    Body Fantasies vanilla body spray’s scent is a little too strong. I still like it, but just use it sparingly.

    My skin is very dry right now and George’s Special Dry Skin Cream is doing the trick. It’s a bit greasy when you apply it, and takes some extra time to soak in, but it works really well.

    Lastly, Salt Spring Soapworks’ sparkling rhubarb bubble bath smells absolutely wonderful!

    I hope you find this helpful and enjoy some of these cruelty free products if you decide to give them a try! If you would like to share with us some of your favourite products, join the conversation on our Facebook page.

    Cheryl B

    The imperfect animal advocate

    Posted by: Kathy Powelson Tags: , | Categories: News


    When you work or volunteer in animal rescue you often feel like you bare the brunt of other people’s poor and/or selfish decisions. A common conversation among animal rescuers is the ridiculous reasons people have given when surrendering their pet. In fact, just this past Christmas we published a post that discussed this very issue. And I think many of us, at some point in our career, will experience a sense of martyrdom. We are picking up people’s messes. We are saving the abused and neglected. We are speaking on behalf of the voiceless. If not us, than no one.

    Because of this degree of responsibility many of us feel to protect and advocate for animals we place unreasonable expectations on ourselves. But we are human, and we cannot fix everything. There are issues and problems that are simply beyond our control. Recently I was faced with this and through this experience I learned some valuable lessons.

    When Molly’s profile appeared on Facebook, my partner and I were immediately drawn to her sweet face. A victim of a divorce, Molly, at no fault of her own, ended up at the shelter. She was a young shepherd mix who lived with children. The perfect dog for us and our four year old daughter. I sent a note to my contact at the shelter and ask if they could cat test her, and both times she was introduced to a cat at the shelter she did not react. Perfect. Molly was perfect. We brought our daughter to the shelter to meet her and she was amazing. We filled out an adoption application, and two days later we were informed that we were approved.

    Molly and I leaving the shelter

    We were beyond excited, and I went to the shelter first thing the next morning to get her. Stopped by the pet store on the way home to buy her everything she would need to be comfortable in her new home. When we arrived at home our senior chihuahua was not phased by her presence, our cat Cinnibar was not that impressed and while on leash Molly appeared a bit interested but nothing that caused me to be concerned. Everything was perfect.

    Molly and Chili meeting

    Until Cinnibar moved.

    Molly’s high prey drive kicked in and chaos ensued. I was not prepared for this in any way, and luckily Cinnibar was able to find safety on our daughter’s top bunk bed. Over the next few days, upon advice from many colleagues and friends I implemented a number of controls and routines to keep Cinnibar safe and provide opportunities to try to work on Molly’s prey drive. It didn’t work. Molly was the most amazing dog in EVERY OTHER ASPECT. She knew commands and followed them. She walked well on a leash. She was active, yet very relaxed. She was so good with our daughter. She was good with our small dog and even tried to instigate play.

    But she wanted to eat our cat.

    How could I return her? In addition to falling madly in love with her, I felt this internalized pressure that because of my work with Paws for Hope I had to make this work. What would it say about me if I couldn’t make it work and had to return her to the shelter? I would be a hypocrite wouldn’t I?


    Management control

    Key to improving the lives of animals is making sure they are in the right home, and it doesn’t automatically follow that when you fall in love with an animal that you are the perfect home for them. We could have kept Molly and made arrangements to manage the situation with crates and gates (which we initially did), but not only is this unfair to the animal who is confined, if the behaviour does not change, the situation could potentially end in disaster. Tragic stories of when management ended in disaster were also shared with me.

    And what if we changed the perception of returns? When I shared my experience with Sheila Koukan, manager at Best Friends Society’s NKLA Pet Adoption Center her response provided an important perspective, and helped me understand that I would not be failing Molly by returning her to the shelter.

    It’s important to change the perception of returns. We want what is best for the animal and the adopters. At least returns allow us to learn more about the animals and find them the right home moving forward.

    And she’s right. Now, the shelter knows Molly absolutely cannot live with cats. They also now know that she is good with small dogs, does very well with structure and needs her daily walks.

    Finally, perhaps the most important lesson was giving myself permission to not be a martyr. Next to raising my daughter, advocating for the welfare of animals is the most important thing in my life. I have worked day and night over the past six years to make Paws for Hope into a credible organization that will make a meaningful and sustainable difference in animal welfare. Admitting that I would not be the one who would give this shelter dog a second chance at life felt like the biggest failure. But in fact, I would have failed Molly if I did not return her to the shelter to give her the opportunity to be raised by the perfect family for her. A family with no cats. A house where she could therefore roam freely. I would have also failed Cinnibar, by creating an environment that would cause her ongoing stress. One where she could no longer run and play. One controlled by the presence of another. And as many of my colleagues reminded me, Cinnibar has to come first.

    This experience showed me the best of the animal welfare community. When we were in management mode, there was an army of rescue folks ready to help in anyway, and when we accepted that we were not the right home for Molly and made the decision to return her, that same army was there to support me. Sharing my experience publicly also seemed to give people permission to share their stories of adoptions or rehomings that did not work. Some admitting that, like me, they felt so ashamed because of the work they do, they never told anyone.

    Cinnibar enjoying the return of her freedom

    Accepting that there are limits in what we are capable of is essential to helping animals effectively. When we take on too much we may do more harm than good. Because of lack of funding and government political will to make animal welfare a priority, the system often operates in crisis mode. To respond effectively and to make meaningful steps to move towards a more sustainable animal welfare system we need to know and work within our limits.

    And Molly? Twenty-four hours after being back at the shelter she has gone home with her perfect family.

    Kathy Powelson
    Executive Director