On November 25, 2015, a grateful cat named Meetsa became the one millionth pet adopted through the auspices of the BC SPCA. The organization celebrates its 120th anniversary this year as well, but for the record, the adoption services began in the 1950s, and only grew into the 28,000-per-year adoptions pace they currently keep.
Lorie Chortyk is general manager of community relations, and she notes the organization is much more than an adoption agency. “For us, it is about education in the community, about cruelty prevention, and outreach to youth,” she says. They deal with approximately 14,000 reported cases of animal cruelty per year. “We see the worst things, but then we see the best, too,” says Chortyk. “Cruelty towards animals, yes, and while there is simply no excuse, a huge number of animals are simply abandoned each year.” She shakes her head, clearly wondering just how it can come to pass that a person would take their pet out to the local garbage dump, place them in a flimsy bag, and leave them there—but it happens, virtually every day.
There is also a fairly direct relationship between violence to animals and violence to humans. The BC SPCA has a compassionate boarding program, in which abused spouses who have pets are able to have the animals discreetly cared for, so that abusers cannot use them as a form of threat towards their victims. So, yes, things can be harsh for those working on the front lines of the SPCA. Still, through curriculum additions in schools, various youth outreach programs, the SPCA-certified farms program initiated in 2002, compassion and respect for animals is being ingrained into our culture more effectively than ever. “Young people are becoming our most passionate advocates,” says Chortyk.
The need for the BC SPCA is not dissipating, but its successes are to be celebrated. One million saved is an impressive achievement. As Chortyk, herself the proud owner of three rescue animals, declares: “A million rescues is a million happy stories.”