Alberni-Clayoquot SPCA’s animal shelter will develop a social and educational role in the not-too-distant future, using surrendered animals to teach kindness and compassion.
Port Alberni and Nanaimo SPCA managers explained the concept to city council Tuesday as part of an overview of the humane society’s work in the community and provincewide.
“What we’re trying to do is to create more empathy generally,” said Leon Davis, manager of the Nanaimo animal care centre. In its educational capacity, the society teaches empathy and kindness to children, part of its goal being to reduce bullying at school, Davis said.
The evolving role is consistent with changes at other SPCA centres in the province, including Nanaimo, where a new facility is designed to foster a closer engagement with the public. Visitors arrive to find a popcorn machine, one example of the new approach, Davis said.
“We’re excited about the possibilities in Port Alberni,” Davis said. “There’s a lot of exciting things happening here in the next five years.”
Sam Sattar, who assumed the role of shelter manager at the Broughton Street facility eight months ago, said the vision is part of a five-year plan that will incorporate the addition of 1.5-hectare parcel acquired from the city for a nominal sum. Although still in the conceptual stage, plans include the addition of education summer camps for kids, he said.
“I’m a pretty optimistic person,” Sattar said, adding that he hopes to see the changes realized sooner rather than five years away.
Alberni-Clayoquot SPCA holds a contract with the city to enforce animal control policies and regulations. The shelter employs five full-time staff and recently added three more casual workers. Sixteen volunteers also help out at the shelter.
“The phone here doesn’t stop ringing,” Sattar said of demand for shelter services. “A lot of shelters and adoption centres around are not open six days a week like us.”
The society receives no direct government funding. They make $154,000 in revenue annually vs. costs of $548,000.
“We’re seeing a drop in the number of animals coming in, but we are seeing an increase in medical health and behavioural issues,” Davis said.