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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The BC SPCA is still searching for a new location for an animal shelter in Fort St. John.
The local branch’s existing facility was closed in March for structural assessments, which later determined that animals, staff, and volunteers could not safely return to the building.
Concerns surrounding future animal care in the city were brought up in a city council meeting on Monday, and staff will be putting out “feelers” for a new facility.
The BC SPCA has looked into seven different sites for a long-term building and other short-term solutions.
“We have been working closely with local real estate experts to identify a site where we can relocate SPCA services, exploring both lease and lease-to-own options as we assess how we can best serve North Peace animals and pet guardians, now and in the future,” said Adrienne McBride, the BC SPCA’s senior director of community animal centres.
“We are absolutely committed to this community and to continuing our programs and services for animals in need.”
The issue the non-profit is facing is finding a site that can be adapted to a community animal centre such as the SPCA.
“There are specific requirements outlined under the Canadian Standards of Care for animal sheltering to ensure the health and safety of animals, including biosecurity standards, optimum ventilation and ensuring adequate space requirements per animal to prevent infectious disease outbreaks,” McBride said.
“We are all anxious to get something in place as soon as possible, but we don’t want to go for a ‘quick fix’ that won’t be in the best interests of the community animals we serve.”
She says some possible options have been looked into for the use of office space to care for incoming cats, but the real issue is finding a space that will also work for dogs.
“We are still exploring sites and are hoping to have a short-term location in place relatively soon with the goal of transitioning into a permanent new home,” she said.
The option to retrofit a building would allow the BC SPCA to build the best environment for the animals, according to McBride.
The SPCA is still working with local real estate experts, and McBride is asking the community to suggest possible buildings.
With the help of the SPCA branch in Dawson Creek, the Drives for Lives transfer program, pet food banks, other outreach programs, local veterinary clinics and foster homes, McBride says services to local animals have continued.
“Since March, when we had to vacate our facility, we have helped more than 260 animals in North Peace (including 150 strays) and administered spay/neuter vouchers worth more than $1,300,” she said.
The shelter is always in need of fosters, but amid the current transition period, McBride notes that it is “especially urgent.”
“A foster home can be so valuable in socializing animals and helping to acclimatize them to everyday sights and sounds. It also allows us to increase our capacity to take in more community animals.”
The increased capacity will prepare the shelter for winter.
“During the cold weather, a big issue in Fort St. John is outdoor cats suffering from frostbite. We’d like to have as many foster homes lined up so that we can make sure these animals have a warm, safe place to recover.”
Any updates will be posted on the BC SPCA website at spca.bc.ca/north-peace.
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