Education is the key to many things, and the Fort St. James Humane Society is hoping it might be the key to improving the lives of pets in Fort.
The group is reinventing itself after founder Angela McLaren has moved to Prince George and a new board of directors has since taken up the job.
The group was created in 2008 to help to provide a much-needed service in the community helping to deal with area cats and stray or wandering dogs on Nak’azdli and other places outside the District of Fort St. James municipal boundaries.
Monica Grill of Nahounli Kennels has a long-standing contract with the municipality to pick up stray dogs within their boundaries, but there was a need for something to be done outside of the municipality as well and so the society was created to fill the void.
The group does a huge job, dealing with stray cats and dogs, finding foster homes for the animals, keeping the animals fed and taken care of and ensuring they get veterinary care until the animals can hopefully be adopted out. The society now has a partnership with the store Petland, and the store makes spaces available to put pets from the society up for adoption.
It’s a never-ending job and one which continues to grow as awareness about the society also grows.
The group is funded partially by a contract with Nak’azdli Band to do animal control and transport animals to be spayed or neutered, as well as by donations and various fundraising activities.
The group, run by volunteers who also have full-time jobs of their own already, are continuing to struggle to raise the funds to help complete a shelter so they can more properly accommodate dogs and cats year-round.
Currently, there are two catteries and a basic building shell for a permanent shelter, but no money to finish the electrical, plumbing and final construction to make them year-round facilities.
The group is now working on raising $10,000 to get power and water to the buildings, but now they’re struggling to keep operational because they need more volunteers and more members for their board of directors, which they say is very rewarding work, and would be much less demanding if they had just a few more people to share the load.
“We all really enjoy it,” said Monica Sillje, one of the board members.
Every day volunteers go out and clean the shelters and play with the dogs.
They also hold some fundraisers throughout the year, with an annual Feasts for Beasts dinner, which this year raised $1,700 and some bingo night raffle tables and bake sales. Petland has also helped out the society and raised over $1,000 this year at an adoption event.
The group also collects bottles at the local bottle depot, so funds from bottles returned can be donated to the society and offers bartending services for events to help raise funds that way.
But the many fundraising efforts still have the group a long way from the total of $30,000 it would take to completely finish the shelter and have it providing year-round space for the animals. Right now, animals are fostered out over the winter, and there are far less spaces in the months when animals need the most help.
The group is now developing a strategic plan with Emily Colombo, economic development officer with the District of Fort St. James, and hoping they can find more people to help with the growing need.
“We’re struggling,” said Sillje. The group also puts out a monthly newsletter and maintains a web presence with a Humane Society Facebook Page.
To contact the group or for more information call 996-3370 or go to www.fsjhs.org.