The Northwest Animal Shelter (NWAS) board held their annual general meeting last Tuesday at Hudson Bay Lodge, to offer a summary of the previous year’s activities and elect the board of directors.
The board was all elected by acclamation, with Sara Tomlinson serving as president and treasurer, Jean O’Sullivan continuing as Vice President, Tonya Gillard carrying on duties as Secretary, and Lorna Bertram taking over in the role of director from Brier Cadden, who moved away last spring. Bertram is a long-time volunteer and foster home provider with NWAS.
Tomlinson said she’s pleased with how the last year went overall.
“It’s been a very successful year for us. The community has been very supportive,” she said.
The most positive news for the shelter is the extension of the contract to operate as the Town of Smithers’ dog pound. NWAS was awarded the contract in late 2010, with the stipulation that the pound be built within 10 km of town boundaries. Although no suitable land has been located, Tomlinson said the search is a priority, and Smithers council recently renewed the contract for another year to allow the search to continue.
“I see that contract as very pivotal for us,” said Tomlinson, noting that the steady financial income has been invaluable over the past year.
Town bylaw enforcement officer Matt Davey made a presentation at the meeting, summing up his thoughts on partnering with NWAS over the past year, and discussing animal control issues.
“The past 13, 14 months have been awesome with the Northwest Animal Shelter,” he said. “We’re almost like a team now. I don’t feel like a one-man show.”
Davey discussed some of the limitations of his authority. Only dogs are covered in the town’s pet bylaws, and those rules only extend as far as the town limits. Any complaints outside Smithers must be addressed either by Telkwa’s bylaw enforcement officer, or by the RCMP in rural areas. On the positive side, the town’s animal bylaw was rewritten last year to include increased fines for dangerous dogs as well as introduce standards of care. He said he usually tries to solve problems with owners before getting to the point of issuing fines, and that partnering with NWAS has on occasion made some owners more willing to accept that they might not be able to properly care for a dog in their current situation.
“People are more open to the idea of surrendering a dog,” he said.
Vice President Jean O’Sullivan presented the rescue report, noting that NWAS dealt with 72 dogs over the past year. Of those, 57 have been placed either through a Vancouver rescue group, or in local adoptive homes. There are 11 dogs in foster care, and four that are in need of foster homes. O’Sullivan pointed out that cats are an even bigger problem, aggravated partly by the lack of bylaws and animal control officers. The NWAS dealt with over 80 cats and kittens over the past year, and attempted to help more. In the report, O’Sullivan said “the requests for help are ongoing, and seemingly endless.”
Tomlinson expanded on those thoughts, pointing out that as the NWAS deals with more animals, without a permanent shelter in place, the need for volunteers to temporarily house animals is also growing.
“We do have an urgent need for foster homes. The need far outweighs the supply,” she said.
To learn more about the shelter, see animals up for adoption, or contact the shelter, visit www.nwas.ca.