SPCA seeks new local facility

·3 min read

The SPCA continues to investigate options for its animal shelter in the North Peace after the local facility was closed earlier this year due to concerns about the structural integrity of the building.

The building on 81 Avenue was closed in March following an inspection, and a timeline hasn’t been set for a possible move, says branch manager Candace Buchamer, who notes it’s been difficult to find adequate housing that would meet the agency's needs.

“Basically, the BC SPCA is now moving forward to identify a new facility within Fort St. John to care for the animals in need in the community,” she said. “After the safety concerns were identified, we’ve been looking into repair costs and potential market value of the building, whether those repairs would be feasible.”

Buchamer says the SPCA had originally looked at renting space but soon realized modifications would be needed to accommodate animals and the work of caring for them, something most landlords do not allow.

It’s unclear if the agency will return to its original facility in the future. She says part of the assessment involves weighing whether it’s appropriate for donor funding to be used for any repairs, and nothing has been set in stone for a new location to purchase.

“I was informed that they are looking for a new location for us. It may be a temporary location, as in two to three years, until they can they more solidly make a determination on our existing facility,” said Buchamer.

Though the facility is closed, the shelter's work continues. Buchamer says she’s been grateful for the community’s support in the meantime, with fosters continuing to fill in the gaps and caring for animals in need.

“We’ve had an amazing foster network, that really has been our saviour throughout all of this. If it weren’t for our fosters keeping our homes open to cat after cat, we wouldn’t have been able to help the amount that we have during this time,” she said. “Our fosters have been integral.”

Cats remain in need of the most help, says Buchamer, with a high number of surrenders and abandoned pets coming to the society. Thirty-six remain in care, with more on a waitlist.

“We’re just one organization working in the area, and I know that there’s multiple rescues that are all full and overwhelmed by the issue as well,” she said.

Meanwhile, a new manager has also been hired for the South Peace SCPA in Dawson Creek, helping to reduce Buchamer’s daunting workload – she had previously been overseeing operations for both branches.

The SPCA's provincial transfer program is still operating, with cats being moved to homes on the coast and elsewhere in B.C. More than 47 cats have been transferred in the past two weeks.

Anyone looking to get in touch with the SPCA should remain patient, as they’re too busy to be able to monitor their phone, but if you leave a message, staff and volunteers will return any calls. You can give them a call at 250-785-7722 or find them on social media.

Tom Summer, Alaska Highway News, Local Journalism Initiative.

Email your letters to tsummer@ahnfsj.ca

Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Alaska Highway News