The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, also known as the BC SPCA, is one of the largest animal welfare organizations of its kind in North America.
The organization works to enhance the quality of life of domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C., and to inspire and mobilize society to create a world safe for animals to enjoy. The BC SPCA conducts emergency rescue operations, cruelty investigations, education programs, welfare research and wildlife rehabilitation for the thousands of deer, birds and other wildlife rescued each year.
However, this isn’t the only work that this non-profit organization seeks to accomplish. The society also works to find homes for almost 16,000 abandoned or surrendered animals each year.
"For dogs in particular, we have a fabulous volunteer program for walks and playtime, and a transfer program that involves bringing dogs down from our northern shelters to allow more dogs to find new homes."
says Nicole McBain, Vancouver Branch Assistant Manager at BC SPCA.
"On average, dogs stay only eight days at our shelters before finding their forever homes and families."
The organization takes the dog adoption process very seriously and runs a comprehensive program to ensure that dogs are well matched with their new families.
The program consists of a five-stage process to ensure that dogs are matched with suitable families for the future. This includes: a pre-adoption checklist, to ensure that the household understands the impact that an animal will have on their day-to-day lives; a matching program, to ensure that the individuals get to know the characteristics of the animal; viewing of the dogs either online or in person, to give people an idea of the animals that need re-homing; and an adoption application form which enables the BC SPCA to ensure that the animal is matched with the right owner. The final stage of the program involves the new owner bringing home their companion and integrating them into their everyday lives.
In order to ensure the best match possible for both the dog and the humans involved, the organization also pays strong attention to the dog’s behaviour and temperament prior to adoption.
"All dogs over the age of four months are assessed with a temperament test that was created for the BC SPCA by Dr. Rebecca Ledger."
"The assessment allows us to make the best possible match for both the dog and the humans. It also helps us to match their lifestyles and predict any possible behaviours that are likely to occur in the home so that we can match the owner’s experience level to the behaviour that may be exhibited,"
Once the temperament test has been administered, the dog handlers will know whether the dog is ready to be adopted right away, or if it may require behaviour modification prior to adoption. This is achieved through positive reinforcement training to make sure that the dog is ready for re-homing.
The BC SPCA also offers shelter volunteer and foster programs for dogs, cats, rabbits and small animals until permanent homes are found. Volunteers are critical and valued resources to the society and make a real difference in the lives of the animals. Other volunteer opportunities include dog walking, cat wellness, fundraising and education.
On dog adoption, McBain believes that you can really make a difference and give the animal a new lease on life.
"When you adopt from a shelter, you give a dog a second chance for a happy, loving family forever."
For more information on adoption or volunteer opportunities at the BC SPCA, head to www.spca.bc.ca or call 604-681-7271604-681-7271.
Meet The Photographer: Ricardo Vacas
Ricardo Vacas, owner of the firm Kerp Photography, always showed intense interest in many forms of creative arts. His professional photography career started in his home country, Spain, where he was the official photographer of several music bands, models and clothing brands. He decided to move to Wellington, New Zealand in 2012, knowing his real interest was fashion photography more than any other field. Currently living in Vancouver, Canada, he now combines his fashion, editorial and commercial photography projects with regular trips to Europe and USA.