With a full decade of service now under its belt, the Lake Cowichan Animal Rescue Society is looking forward to its next 10 years, following a special celebration last weekend recognizing the work of its many volunteers.
On Saturday, LCARS members gathered at the curling lounge for an indoor barbecue, cake-cutting and live auction, all in honour of the society’s tenth anniversary and the people who have kept it going all this time.
“We are totally volunteer-based. Everybody in there is totally volunteer, and it’s totally supported by the community,” said LCARS secretary Nora Hayward.
Hayward has been involved for five years, and said that while the society has a very dedicated membership and volunteer base, there is no shortage of ways people can help out.
“We could definitely get more foster parents for the animals,” she said. “We’ve only got a few fosters, so to have more fostering and public awareness. And for people to be a bit more patient and realize we can’t do all the ferals every year all at once.”
Capturing feral cats is one of the organization’s top priorities; volunteers use traps to catch feral cats, then bring them to be spayed or neutered and released again. The society has a no kill policy, which means even if an animal is injured or sick, LCARS will do everything in its power to restore it to health.
Much of that work falls to Barb Bedard, director of operations, who addressed the group after lunch and shared her recent experience trying to care for a litter of premature kittens that ultimately did not survive.
Barb and her husband, Mick, received awards of appreciation from the other members of the LCARS board of directors for all their hard work.
“They spend an awful lot of their time doing the animal rescue stuff,” said Hayward, adding the Bedards can always be counted on to lend a hand, especially when it comes to animal care.
Ingrid Wood has been volunteering with the society for three years, fostering cats (although she has also taken in some other animals, including geese) on her one-acre property just outside Lake Cowichan. The society provides her with everything — cages, food, toys, medicine, litter — and in return she gives the animals as much attention, or as much space, as they need.
“You have to make a commitment to it and be there. It’s not like you can go off on holidays and leave your house full of foster animals,” she said.
Wood first began taking care of cats when her foster daughter expressed an interest in animal rescue work. Three years later, that child has moved out and Wood said she now notices the difference it made having a second person helping.
“Having someone else with me really made a difference. Kids sitting on their computers in rooms make great companions for shy cats,” she said. “It was a really super way for them to get used to people. They’d just hang out with her.”
Wood estimated she has fostered about 80 cats over the last three years. She takes care of them until a permanent home can be found, whether through LCARS’s network or PetSmart in Duncan, which receives cats from the Lake for the pet store’s adoption corner.
Sometimes older cats placed at PetSmart have a harder time finding a home; these cats are not kept there for extended periods — if one is having a hard time getting adopted, it will return to Wood’s house for respite.
She said it would be nice to see some more people help with fostering, and noted that it can be good volunteer experience.
“It is really, really valuable for helping young people learn some responsibility and learn nurturing and even learn loss sometimes,” she said.
(Lake Cowichan Animal Rescue turning 10, Oct. 12): The Gazette misidentified LCARS founder Marg Livingstone.