We provide student and community education about animal care, compassion and dog bite safety. We also provide spaying and neutering services, food, and all-weather shelters to pets from lower-income families.
Our motto is “Happy, healthy animals are part of happy, healthy families and communities.”
Lakes Animal Friendship Society has been active in Burns Lake, British Columbia in Canada since 2008. We have a high proportion of lower-income households. There is a significant rural population in our northern community and many members of First Nations.
Historically, companion animal overpopulation and poor levels of animal care were serious problems in our community. Our community lacked the knowledge, tools, and resources to tackle the problems. We are making a long-term commitment to changing attitudes and behaviors.
We are carrying out four main programs:
- Educating children and other community members about animal care, compassion and dog bite safety. We have completed close to 8000 student visits to date. We involve the students in our activities however we can and help them to become “superheroes” for the animals. We have written three children’s books and have produced coloring books, activities, and other materials. These resources are applicable to a broad range of students and are relevant to rural, northern students like ours who have diverse backgrounds.
Local emergency room statistics show a 20% reduction in dog bite incidents. Student awareness about how to meet the needs of their furry family members has improved greatly. There is much more of a “culture of care” for animals.
- Spaying and neutering of animals from lower income families. We have worked with veterinary partners to spay and neuter over 1200 dogs and cats, all by donation (whatever the client can afford – donations have included baking and handmade socks!).
Impoundments are less than a quarter of former levels. Surrenders to shelters have been similarly reduced. The community is saving many thousands of dollars every year, and some of the savings are now being redirected to maintaining the difference we have made.
- Building all-weather houses for dogs and cats in need. We have worked with community partners (mostly local students) to build, paint and distribute over 300 houses to families in our local area and other communities in our region.
While being indoor is best for all pets, the reality in communities like ours is that many dogs and cats live outside through harsh northern winters. Our shelters have reduced countless deaths and suffering.
- Sourcing, storing, and delivering pet food to lower income families. We work with donors in urban centers and companies who help with transport and storage to provide pet food to the local food bank. We have directly donated, sourced, and delivered over 10 tons of food.
Previously the food bank could not provide pet food to clients. As a result we had pets going hungry, or (especially in the case of seniors) people going hungry in order to feed their pets. Our partnerships and direct donations have helped fill this gap in services.