They are our best friends and willingly devote their lives to us.
They protect and entertain us, cheer us when we are blue and stand by us when the rest of the world lets us down.
They ask little more in return than a safe home, clean water, decent food, basic care and kindness and often we let them down terribly.
They are our pets; the millions of dogs, cats, hamsters, birds, etcetera that we call friends and thankfully, they too have friends.
The Lake Cowichan Animal Rescue Society was formed seven years ago in November of 2006 and on this lucky anniversary the group has reached the milestone of assisting its 1,000th animal.
Meet Smudge, a curious and rambunctious overgrown male kitten, who thanks to the society will be neutered this week so that in future he will not be a contributor to the population explosion of kittens in the valley.
His owner, Lorri Pringle is thrilled and extremely grateful.
“This is absolutely incredible!” said Pringle. “I’m on government subsidy with health issues and I would be saving my pennies for a very long time to be able to afford this and there aren’t a lot of pennies left to save when you’re on subsidy.”
As part of the society’s mandate to encourage the spaying or neutering of companion animals, Smudge will be picked up by a society volunteer, transported to the vet in Duncan where he will be immunized and neutered then returned home to Pringle: all this for a $35 donation to the society.
Society volunteer, Mick Bedard acts as the pet taxi driver in this case and explains the logistics.
“Low-income people can apply to us for the subsidy and if accepted, the society covers the whole bill and they pay just a $35 donation,” said Bedard. “We try to do about 10 a year. We’d like to offer more but we have to save some money for kitten season.”
Kitten season starts in March or April and runs through to about the end of October and about 95% of the animals that the society deals with are cats.
“Our spay/neuter program is key and already we’re seeing a difference,” said Society president, Margaret Livingstone. “It’s getting better. Since offering the subsidies as well as trapping and sterilizing feral cats we’re seeing way fewer kittens.”
It is estimated that the average un-spayed female cat (with her un-spayed female offspring) can produce more than 3,200 kittens in 12 years.
The feral cat program consists of the cats being trapped, immunized, sterilized and marked, then released back to their home turf. Lake Cowichan Animal Rescue is a “no kill” society.
“An animal would be euthanized only if it could not be made comfortable during its last days,” said Livingstone.
The society is strictly volunteer-run and non-profit. Unlike many charities, 100% of all donated monies go directly to expenses that directly impact the animals, like food, veterinary attention and keeping the society’s donated van on the road.
The society also gladly accept donations of pet food, kitty litter, pet carriers, leashes, grooming supplies, etc. Monetary and donations in kind are all tax deductible. It is always in need of more volunteers and people willing to foster unwanted animals until permanent homes can be found.
The cost of kindness is high and in 2012, the society ran up almost $12,000 in vet bills despite both the Duncan Animal Hospital and Prevost Veterinary Clinic providing services at a discount rate.
To meet its financial obligations the society fundraises on an ongoing basis. It operates a garage sale twice a month in the old Elk’s Hall on Southshore Road (the next one takes place Saturday, Nov. 9), does catalogue sales through La Montagme and often has an information table set up outside Lake Cowichan Country Grocer.
“We’ll be celebrating our anniversary with an open house on Saturday, November 30th from noon to 4 p.m. at the Bell Tower School (behind the Kaatza Museum),” said Marg Livingstone.
“We welcome people to drop in and check out what we do. We’ll have our scrapbooks out and refreshments.
The society offers help to animals and their owners in any way they can. It can provide help and information on care, feeding, behaviour issues, training, feral cats and more, all at no charge.
For more information on the society and the work they do check out their website at lakecowichananimalrescue.com or call 250-749-4040.