The BC SPCA is continuing its search to find a new home for community animals in Fort St. John. The non-profit-animal welfare organization had to vacate its existing facility in March after structural issues were identified which made it unsafe for humans and animals to continue to use the building.
“We are absolutely committed to this community and to continuing our programs and services for animals in need,” says Adrienne McBride, the BC SPCA’s senior director of community animal centres. “We have been actively working with local real estate experts to identify a site where we can relocate SPCA services, exploring both lease and lease-to-own options as we assess how we can best serve North Peace animals and pet guardians, now and in the future.”
McBride says the BC SPCA has explored seven different sites so far as well as other temporary short term solutions, but the challenge has been finding a site that can be adapted to meet the unique needs of a community animal centre. “There are specific requirements outlined under the Canadian Standards of Care for animal sheltering to ensure the health and safety of animals, including biosecurity standards, optimum ventilation and ensuring adequate space requirements per animal to prevent infectious disease outbreaks,” she says.
“We are all anxious to get something in place as soon as possible, but we don’t want to go for a ‘quick fix’ that won’t be in the best interests of the community animals we serve.” She notes that some viable options have been explored for office space and for the care of incoming cats but the challenge has been finding a space that will also be suitable for dogs.
“We are still exploring sites and are hoping to have a short-term location in place relatively soon with the goal of transitioning into a permanent new home.”
She says the option to retrofit a building would allow the BC SPCA to create the best environment for the animals. “We don’t want to compromise the well-being of the animals and we want to find a permanent location where we can continue to serve the community of North Peace well into the future.” While the SPCA continues to work with local real estate experts, McBride adds that the SPCA would love to hear from anyone in the community who may know of a suitable building to explore.
McBride says services to animals in the community have continued, with the help of the SPCA centre in Dawson Creek, which has taken in North Peace animals, as well as through the Drives for Lives transfer program, pet food banks and other outreach programs, the assistance of local veterinary clinics who have been boarding animals and a network of dedicated foster homes.
“Since March, when we had to vacate our facility, we have helped more than 260 animals in North Peace (including 150 strays) and administered spay/neuter vouchers worth more than $1,300,” she says.
McBride says foster volunteers are always needed to provide a loving, home environment for animals while they await adoption. “We are always in need of foster homes, but while we are in this transition period it is especially urgent,” she says. “A foster home can be so valuable in socializing animals and helping to acclimatize them to everyday sights and sounds. It also allows us to increase our capacity to take in more community animals.”
She says this is increasingly important as winter approaches. “During the cold weather, a big issue in Fort St. John is outdoor cats suffering from frostbite. We’d like to have as many foster homes lined up so that we can make sure these animals have a warm, safe place to recover.”
McBride says updates on a new site will be posted on the BC SPCA website as they develop at spca.bc.ca/north-peace. Anyone interested in becoming a foster volunteer is encouraged to visit spca.bc.ca/ways-to-help/volunteer for more information. “We appreciate the community’s support as we move forward together to find a new home for North Peace animals.”