History behind Kelowna SPCA reaches the century mark

It was 100 years ago that the SPCA Charter was signed in the Okanagan.

It was 100 years ago that the SPCA Charter was signed in the Okanagan, starting a commitment of health and welfare for local animals.

Back then, there was no shelter and the focus was a little different.

Today, the branch is located on Casorso Road and soon will be opening another building to host Summer Camps for kids, educational seminars, do some dog training and act as a regional centre for other SPCA locations in the Okanagan.

The Kelowna branch has helped thousands of animals, large and small out of situations of cruelty and abandonment to find them happy, new forever homes.

“We are so proud of the accomplishments of the organization and the impact it has had in our area,” said Suzanne Pugh, branch manager of the Kelowna shelter.

“The focus has changed over the 100 years, of course and we share many successes today such has hosting sold-out Kids Summer Camps every year to teach responsible pet care to young people, the exotic animals legislation that was passed a couple of years ago banning over 1,200 species of exotic animals in B.C. or our current focus on farm animal welfare and an extensive SPCA-certified program to name a few.”

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA Act) was passed in 1895 and set in motion the creation of a non-profit society called the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

A committee of individuals concerned with animal’s protection was formed to create the B.C. SPCA Bylaws and Constitution. In 1896, the first meeting was held in New Westminster.

Branches started being formed around the province, including one in Kelowna.

Back then, there was no building and no team like there is today.

Today, the B.C. SPCA has 36 branches around the province servicing more than 37,000 animals each year.

The organization does so much more than adopt cats and dogs, as their mission statements reads—to protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in British Columbia.

There is a team of cruelty officers responding to calls of animal abuse in every region of the province, a team of animal advocates lobbying government at the municipal, provincial and federal levels to change legislation, introduce new standards for animals especially those in farming and to lobby for stiffer sentences for those who abuse animals. The organization has a humane education program and runs summer camps for kids and youth throughout the province in a bid to educate early the importance of responsible pet care and encourage empathy.

As the mission statement mentions, the SPCA also deals with wild animals with a wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and release facility in Metchosin just outside of Victoria.

“This is a very unique facility that has many areas including nurseries for all baby animals, an aquatic area and avian pens for the birds,” said Pugh.

“I was so impressed with the education and attention to detail the staff at the facility have ensuring all animal needs are met and keeping the conditions as much like the wild as possible to ensure the highest chance of survival once released.”

The B.C. SPCA has  achieved a lot in the past 100 years, and those achievements will be celebrated at the annual SPCA gala and fundraiser on Nov. 3 at the Coast Capri Hotel, presented by Romany Runnalls of The Mortgage Group Aquarius Mortgages.

“We have an amazing evening planned including a Champagne and Canapé reception sponsored by DKL Financial, a three-course meal paired with Okanagan wines, live entertainment, many great silent and live auction packages and, back by popular demand our doggy fashion show,” said Kristin Mazuren, event coordinator for the Kelowna SPCA branch.

This annual event has raised over $350,000 for local animals since it began four years ago.

For more information on the Kelowna SPCA branch or how you may be able to support our local animals, contact the shelter at 250-861-7722 or visit the website www.spca.bc.ca/kelowna.

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