With controversy swirling about the Regional District of Central Kootenay proposal to support the Creston Pet Adoption and Welfare Society through property taxes — a proposal the Creston Valley directors asked to have withdrawn — Pet Adoption and Welfare Society president Carol Freeman-Ryll outlined the program.
With about $8,000 a month needed to operate the shelter on Lower Wynndel Road, Freeman-Ryll said it is important for the public to know that PAWS is operated entirely by volunteers.
“Our overnight security person is paid wages equivalent to the amount of rent for the on-site cottage,” she said. “Those wages are in turn paid to PAWS in the form of rent. Thus, there is no expenditure for wages.”
In addition to providing security for the facility, the tenant does morning and evening chores.
The land was purchased with money raised through donations, fundraising and grants, and the building was constructed in the same way, she said. Land and buildings are owned outright by the society, with no money owed.
“Many people believe that we are funded by the government, the Town of Creston, the SPCA or ‘somebody’,” she said.
In fact, much of the volunteers’ time and energy goes into fundraising, an activity that burns out people whose primary interest is in working directly with animals in need of care.
“Most of the grants we receive are for capital projects,” Freeman-Ryll said. “Fundraising is becoming increasingly challenging as opportunities become increasingly limited.”
Freeman-Ryll summarized services provided by PAWS:
•taking in strays, reuniting them with their owners or finding homes for unclaimed animals;
•assisting owners that need to find new homes for their pets;
•enabling high school students to perform volunteer hours required under education plans;
•offering pet care and training assistance to pet owners;
•provide dogs to be trained as helping service dogs;
•welcoming members of the Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors, who visit regularly to enjoy animal contact;
•providing people with special needs with the opportunity to help with shelter chores, dog walking and “cat cuddling”;
•providing free pet care, safety and education programs to school students and groups such as 4-H, cadets, scouts and guides;
•participating in the local certified therapy program assisting special needs students one-on-one;
•assisting the Kootenai Community Centre Society when its clients have pets requiring temporary care;
•working with community outreach programs to provide opportunities for youths and adults that have been ordered to perform community service hours;
•assisting the RCMP with incidents involving animals (death of owners, vehicle accidents, housefires, hospitalization of owners with pets, cruelty);
•taking in homeless pets and finding them new homes;
•working with the BC SPCA on local cruelty and abuse issues;
•supporting the Seniors 4 Seniors program by matching older animals with seniors that don’t have the resources to adopt and care for animal; and
•responding to nearly 4,000 telephone calls for help and information annually.
In 2012, PAWS took into care 96 dogs and 43 cats, not including animals that were returned directly to their owners because they were wearing PAWS identification tags. In the first six months of 2013, 65 dogs were taken into the shelter.
“PAWS has grown over the 17 years we have been operating,” Freeman-Ryll said. “We have become recognized as a valuable community resource in a wide variety of ways. We want to continue all these services to the community. But we can only continue to provide these services and be available for emergencies and disaster animal care with stable and sustainable funding.”