Lower Mainland animal rescue groups banding together

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Mar 22, 2017 in Rat News | Subscribe

An explosion in the number of animal-rescue groups in B.C. has prompted a Lower Mainland organization to look at developing standards for rescue groups.

Currently, anyone in B.C. can take in animals and say they are running an animal shelter or rescue group. And as long as they are following local bylaws and not breaking animal-cruelty laws, there is nothing anyone can do to stop or regulate them.

“It is the wild west when it comes to animal rescue,” said Kathy Powelson, executive director of the Paws for Hope Animal Foundation. “Anyone can do just about anything.”

Powelson said that when she started her organization six years ago, there were about 65 animal-rescue groups in B.C. Last year, while preparing a report, her team mapped out rescue organizations and found more than 170, not counting B.C. SPCA branches and municipal shelters.

Most of them are doing great work, she said, but there are a few that aren’t doing what they say they are, and there is no way to hold them accountable.

Paws for Hope is in the midst of creating the Animal Welfare Advisory Network of B.C. A steering committee has been set up with representatives from nine animal-welfare organizations, including the B.C. SPCA and Paws for Hope. The committee will act as a governing body for the network.

The network will allow organizations to work together to fund or implement regional and provincial strategies to address issues such as pet abandonment, abuse and overpopulation.

At an initial meeting last year, Powelson said representatives from more than 20 organizations agreed that setting rescue standards is a priority. Powelson said they hope to begin developing those standards in the fall.

Tasha Bukovnik, who sits on the board of the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association, said the animal-rescue community currently polices itself.

“Everyone tries to keep in touch with each other and we work with a lot of other organizations and share information among each other and try to help each other out,” she said. “We usually hear reports if someone is doing something we don’t think falls in line.”

Bukovnik said she supports the idea of having standards for reputable rescue organizations.

Marcie Moriarty, the B.C. SPCA’s chief prevention and enforcement officer agreed.

“An organization like Paws for Hope that is working toward professionalizing the industry is great,” she said.

Powelson said setting standards is a good first step, but it’s not going to stop cases like the one that hit the news on Monday, when the B.C. SPCA seized 17 animals from a Langley property that is home to Sandra Simans, the operator of 1atatime Rescue Society. Last September, the B.C. SPCA seized 88 animals from Simans’s organization — one of the largest seizures in B.C. SPCA history — and 72 animals in 2012.

1atatime Rescue Society is a registered and incorporated society in B.C.

A search of corporate records shows that 1atatime is currently not in good standing and in danger of being dissolved because it has failed to file an annual report since 2014. The society was dissolved once before, in October 2010, for the same reason, but restored as a society in February 2011.

1atatime is also a federally registered charity and has been since 2006.

Neither the provincial or federal governments monitor the activities of societies or charities beyond looking at their financial information and whether they follow regulations.

Powelson said the network will not be a regulatory body, and she would like to have discussions with the provincial government about regulating animal rescue groups.

“There needs to be checks and balances,” she said. “No one is accountable, which I just think is insane.”

jensaltman@postmedia.com

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Article source: http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/lower-mainland-animal-rescue-groups-banding-together

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