This Month’s Co-op Community Champion, Candace Buchamer, has been an integral part of the North Peace BC SPCA for over 20 years.

The resident who nominated Buchamer also wanted the facility’s staff to receive recognition for their dedication to animal welfare.

Co-op highlights people in Fort St. John who should be recognized for their work in the community. Anyone looking to nominate a community-minded person in need of recognition, head to Energeticcity’s website.

“The staff and volunteers are in a no-win situation sometimes as criticism can be very hurtful to these folks who put their hearts and hard work into keeping animals safe,” said the nomination.

Buchamer said the nomination made the day a little warm and fuzzier as the branch doesn’t generally receive praise from the community.

“It’s not something that comes forward frequently for us. So just to have the nomination, and know that there are people out there that are seeing the hard work, it does give us a boost,’ said Buchamer.

The SPCA was originally just a stop towards her career of being a veterinarian. She started with the branch in high school as a work placement for the career and planning program.

As for the reason behind not pursuing college, Buchamer said life threw her some curveballs but working with the organization “spoke’ with her.

“I appreciated the welfare aspect, the advocacy, trying to make life better for animals, especially here in the North, and just trying to build that knowledge that things are changing. We’re not in the same state we were 100 years ago, 20 years ago. Even welfare aspects are changing, and how medicine and different things involved with animal guardianship are changing. ”

The most significant change Buchamer has seen in Fort St. John is dog welfare, which she believes is due to bylaws the City has implemented. This has resulted in fewer stray dogs roaming the city, which wasn’t the case 15 years ago, according to Buchamer.

“The standard of care [has improved]. And what we need to provide as a minimum requirement is 100 fold compared to what it was back when I started.”

“15 years ago, you could drive through Matthews Park, along the park side, and you would see 12 to 15 dogs roaming in the span of about three blocks.”

Buchamer mentions that more community members are also coming forward to report animal cruelty cases.

Over the course of her career with the SPCA, Buchamer received a Staff Excellence Award after a remote rescue in 2014 after a fire broke out at a home. She also received a nomination through the Women’s Resource Society, which was spotlighting amazing women in the community for International Women’s Day.

The shelter has had many detractors on social media, which Buchamer says are due to past interactions at the shelter. To those doubting the shelter, she says many of their processes have changed and are much more streamlined.

“Everything we are doing within the shelter is based on stress reduction and comfort, and trying to make sure that when the animals are with us, they’re receiving the best care they possibly can, including medical,” said Buchamer.

Last month, Buchamer spoke with Energeticcity about the branch being stretched thin due to overcapacity and the number of staff able to work due to public health orders.