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New shelter has busy and slow times

Currently housing four dogs and 35 cats, all looking for love
Lorelei Johnson

Spending your first few hours in a dump, in the middle of winter, in Dawson Creek isn’t the easiest start in life.

But three lab-cross pups, now about three months old, survived that harsh welcome to the world after someone abandoned them there.

Now they’re warm and cosy several hundred kilometres farther south in a new home and in the new Maple Ridge Community Animal Shelter.

One pup has already been adopted, but two are still awaiting new owners, says Maple Ridge SPCA spokesman Mark Vosper.

They were two of only four dogs staying at the shelter while waiting for new homes as of Thursday, along with 35 cats.

Christmas can be a slow time at the shelter, with cold and snowy weather affecting the SPCA transfer program, in which animals surrendered to SPCA branches in northern B.C. are moved for easier adoption in the more populous Lower Mainland.

The cold weather has most pets stay inside, and those who people no longer can care for have usually been surrendered before Christmas.

Vosper, though, expects the pace to pick up soon. The end of the month can be busy times for animal surrenders, as people move and find they have no place for their family pets.

Owners also have a legal responsibility to care for the health and wellness of their animals and to ensure they’re not in distress, Vosper said.

“People have to be realistic as well, if they’re finding it difficult to make ends meet, then unfortunately they have to consider re-homing their animals rather than leaving them without proper care or attention.”

The new energy-smart centre on Jackson Road, with its natural lighting and air exchange system, which reduces the spread of disease, is working well, he said.

“It’s just a nice facility for the animals.”