Okanagan SPCA shelters filled with emergency animal boarders

The Kelowna branch of the B.C. SPCA is among those providing emergency shelter to animals displaced by floods.. Global News

The flooding in B.C. has put the province’s SPCA shelters into triage mode. The organization is caring for a lot of animals displaced from their homes and separated from their owners.

“They’re Merritt and Merritt area-impacted evacuees that have utilized Kamloops as their emergency support centers … but the overflow of those animals have come to Kelowna,” Kelowna SPCA branch manager Sean Hogan told Global News.

The sheer number of animal evacuees have affected shelters across the province.

That includes Kelowna, where space now being occupied by animal evacuees has resulted in a wait list for animals being surrendered or found abandoned.

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“We have been unable to bring animals into the branch from the public — that are not in an emergency situation,” Hogan said. “We have been helping emergency surrenders or animals that have been abandoned and need our help. That hasn’t changed at all, but in order to triage the situation, we’ve had to create a wait list and the wait lists are looking a little bit deep.”

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In Penticton, the shelter had to take in a lot of animals from branches in Kamloops and the Shuswap. Its facilities were emptied out for animals displaced by the floods.

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To make room, the Penticton shelter put animals into foster homes.

“We put quite a few animals into foster, ” said Penticton branch manager Carolyn Hawkins. “We had lots of foster homes and we’re continuing to do so, just in in case we still need to make room for our animals to come in.”

In addition, Okanagan shelters are also taking in animals from Northern B.C. that couldn’t be transferred to the Lower Mainland.

“Those animals would normally be going down to the Lower Mainland for adoption, but because roadways have been obviously hampered, that’s meant that they’ve had to be rerouted,” Hogan said. So we’re busy because we’re helping animals that would normally be transferred down to Lower Mainland, as well as animals that are overflowed from Kamloops.”

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While shelters are operating at near-capacity, they’re trying to keep some space available for emergency situations.

“We’re at about 80% capacity right now, said Hawkins. “We’re trying to keep it as low as we can just … to keep some room just in case.”

While staff are doing everything they can to keep the animal evacuees comfortable, for some, the discomfort of being away from home is taking its toll.

“It’s really hard for an animal to be away from their primary caregiver and that’s true in this situation,” Hogan said. “We’re seeing a lot more stress in the shelter … they’re just not having a good time right now. So the sooner evacuees are able to redeem their animals and get back to the lives they know, that’ll be great for everybody.”

For those wishing to help support the B.C. SPCA, donations of unopened animal food and cash are welcomed.

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