Preserving the health and welfare of western Canada’s domestic, farm, and wild animals remains at the heart of the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (B.C. SPCA).
Last week, the province issued a special proclamation that Sept. 21, 2020, would mark the non-profit organization’s 125th anniversary.
The group, which strives to protect the province’s most vulnerable animals, was initially formed to oppose the mistreatment of horses used to haul heavy materials in B.C.’s construction economy at the turn of the 20th century.
“A small group of clergy, journalists, and businessmen concerned about the abuse of these horses successfully lobbied the government to create laws to protect animals in 1895,” says the organization’s CEO, Craig Daniell. “The B.C. SPCA was created as part of that legislation (later amended to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act) as a body to enforce the laws.”
From its beginnings as an advocacy group, the group has grown to become one of the largest animal welfare organizations of its kind of North America, B.C. SPCA says. It has 44 locations province-wide, including community animal centres, store-front adoption sites, veterinary hospitals, and spay/neuter clinics, as well as a wildlife rehabilitation centre.
“Often, people think of the SPCA as only caring for cats and dogs because that’s what they see in our adoption centres, but in reality, we care for all animals—from hamsters to horses, and from owls to otters,” Daniell says.
Additionally, B.C. SPCA offers an array of programs, including a department focusing specifically on protecting farm animals.
“Our programs and services are funded almost entirely by donations,” Daniell says. “In the past 125 years, we have provided millions of dollars in community services for animals. It is the kindness, generosity, and compassion of our incredible partners—our donors, our 5500 volunteers, our corporate and community sponsors, and our hardworking staff—who make this life-saving work possible.”
Last year, in addition to responding to 8000 complaints of animal cruelty, B.C. SPCA provided care for nearly 48,000 animals in need, including emergency veterinary services, sheltering and adoption, and rehabilitation.
“While B.C. SPCA services and programs are wide-ranging and far-reaching, the society has stayed true to its roots as an advocacy organization,” Daniell says. “We will always be a safety net for abused, injured, and homeless animals, but our goal is to change the way animals are valued and treated so they don’t suffer in the first place.”