The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BC SPCA) assisted a record number of animals in need across the province in 2021.
The non-profit organization provides a wide range of services for animals and pet guardians, and is the only animal welfare organization in B.C with the authority to investigate complaints of animal neglect and abuse.
“Last year, amid the ongoing pandemic and unprecedented natural disasters, the BC SPCA helped 118,917 domestic, farm and wild animals – nearly 22,000 more animals than in 2020,” says Lorie Chortyk, general manager of communications for the BC SPCA. “We saw increases in the number of animals in need right across the board – from our cruelty investigations work to injured and orphaned wildlife to the increased demand for help at our veterinary hospitals and clinics.”
Of the 118,917 animals, 39,366 were assisted through direct rescue, sheltering and rehabilitation, while 79,551 others were owned animals helped through emergency response and community-based outreach programs across B.C.
“So many pet guardians have been impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic and we were able to expand our community pet food programs right across the province, helping 34,141 animals,” says Chortyk. “We also responded to families who were displaced by wildfires and floods by providing 12,418 nights of free emergency boarding for their pets, in addition to distributing pet food and supplies at Emergency Support Services centres and rescuing and feeding animals behind evacuation lines.”
Chortyk says a record number of injured and orphaned wild animals – 3,128 – were also brought to Wild ARC, the BC SPCA’s wildlife rehabilitation centre in Metchosin on Vancouver Island last year. “Our wildlife rehabilitators and volunteers were kept very busy caring for everything from baby hummingbirds to river otters.”
In addition to hands-on care for animals, the society worked to protect animals through advocacy campaigns on mink farming, fur farming, fireworks, live horse export, the exotic wildlife trade, rodenticides, wildlife poisoning, wolf culls and efforts to improve Codes of Practice for farm animals in Canada. “Our experts provided 20 policy submissions to government and other organizations on animal protection issues and our supporters took more than 74,000 actions through our campaigns to speak up for animals,” says Chortyk.
She adds that while the pandemic has impacted the society’s traditional methods of providing humane education programs for youth, the shift from in-person to online learning enabled the BC SPCA to expand its programming beyond areas with an SPCA shelter. “So many new kids have joined our summer camps, school presentations, animal clubs and workshops through virtual learning,” says Chortyk. In 2021, the SPCA provided education programs for more than 5,000 B.C. youth, engaged 6,000 children in the BC SPCA Kids Club and provided animal welfare lesson ideas and resources for 6,000 educators.
“We are extremely grateful to the many passionate animal lovers in B.C. who support our education and advocacy programs and our life-saving work for animals through their donations and volunteer participation,” says Chortyk.