Dogs, cats in clean, green surroundings

New space has allowed more volunteers, helping increase adoption rates

Trooper was there for a good time – but not a long time.

Others, though, stayed around for the speeches and tour of the new Maple Ridge Community Animal Shelter.

While dogs and cats moved into the new building on Jackson Road a month ago, Friday was speech and ribbon-cutting time for the shelter.

“We’re incredibly proud and pleased with our relationship with the SPCA. This building is proof that good things come to those who wait,” said Mayor Ernie Daykin.

The $3.7-million building is the only green animal shelter in B.C. and features a host of gadgets that save energy.

Lights go off and on automatically, low-flow toilets and taps save water, compact fluorescent bulbs, double-entry doors and energy-efficient windows and a light-reflective roof add to the efficiency.

“It’s great compared to what the other building used to be,” said volunteer Lindsay Smith.

With regular air recirculation, the smell is kept to a minimum. The 12 regular kennels allow doubling up of dogs to improve socialization, and offer a trap door to the outside, which faces into Albion Park and away from the homes on Jackson Road.

Four other kennels are for holding stray dogs until it’s known how well they get along with others.

“The sound proofing has been improved. A lot of thought went into that,” said branch manager Mark Vosper.

The building has its own adoption-counselling room so potential owners can spend time getting to know their possible new friends.

There’s a staff room, a food storage room and a heavy duty industrial laundry room.

Animals that need a bath can be cleaned up in another room with an elevated bathtub to make it easier for staff.

One of the visitors was Guillermo Schwarz and his family, who donated $1,250 to the fundraising for the new building and in return saw a plaque bearing his name outside one of the rooms.

“We feel very honoured about that. We are constant supporters of the SPCA ever since we moved to Canada [from Mexico] in 1999.”

Vosper said the building has been open a month and the new space has allowed more volunteers to help out and increase adoption rates.

Two weeks ago, the shelter had 19 dogs. Now there are only eight.

Annabel, a quiet German shepherd cross, was one of them. She was all dolled up for the opening and waited patiently in her kennel, rolling over for a belly rub.

Vosper said since opening last month, there have been no disappointments.

“It’s all positive stuff. It’s a vast improvement on animal welfare. Everyone just seems so much more willing to come into work and be with the animals every day.”

The new building also has attracted more volunteers, he pointed out.

“It’s just so good to be finally open.”

Trooper is a golden retriever who showed up at the shelter a year ago, on the brink of death, weighing only 11 kilograms. He’s now thriving in a new home in Pitt Meadows cared for by Brad and Athena Hayward and made a brief appearance at the opening.


Maple Ridge branch:

• The Maple Ridge branch of the B.C. SPCA cares for 1,400 animals a year;

• building size is 6,800 sq. feet;

• the branch has five employees and 85 volunteers;

• the shelter is the first in B.C. accredited under the Leadership in Energy and Environment Design program for green buildings.