Animal adoptions skyrocket during pandemic: South Okanagan BC SPCA

Okanagan Similkameen SPCA branch manager Carolyn Hawkins outside the SPCA shelter on Dartmouth St. (Monique Tamminga Western News)Okanagan Similkameen SPCA branch manager Carolyn Hawkins outside the SPCA shelter on Dartmouth St. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Okanagan Similkameen SPCA branch manager Carolyn Hawkins with two very friendly kitten siblings that arrived last week in a box. They should be available for adoption after they get fixed. (Monique Tamminga Western News)Okanagan Similkameen SPCA branch manager Carolyn Hawkins with two very friendly kitten siblings that arrived last week in a box. They should be available for adoption after they get fixed. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Branch manager Carolyn Hawkins pets Blue, a friendly three-year-old up for adoption. (Monique Tamminga Western News)Branch manager Carolyn Hawkins pets Blue, a friendly three-year-old up for adoption. (Monique Tamminga Western News)

One good thing that has come out of this pandemic is the number of animals being adopted.

Okanagan Similkameen BC SPCA branch manager Carolyn Hawkins said adoptions have skyrocketed during COVID-19.

“With COVID, our dogs are adopted so quickly and our cats too. I have so many people contacting me asking for dogs and kittens,” said Hawkins. “People are home more than ever before so they can spend the time with their new furry family member. People are also looking for companionship right now.”

Adoptions happen so fast that last week, the local shelter only had one dog in foster, five cats and some hamsters. The dog was on his way to his forever home and one of the cats had also been adopted.

“People have to fill out a pretty extensive application which helps us match our animals with the right family. For example, we wouldn’t pair a timid cat with a family of six,” she said.

The SPCA shelter is only open by appointment. But despite COVID-19, the BC SPCA continues some of its vital programs to help the community.

“We partner with the mobile animal food bank and we offer dog and cat food at our front door for residents on a low income. The food is at the door or they can ring our bell and we will bring it out.”

The local Bc SPCA also provides emergency animal boarding for residents who suddenly have to go to the hospital for COVID-19 or other health issues and for women escaping domestic violence.

People can phone the BC SPCA’s hotline and staff will make arrangements for your pets, she said.

Hawkins has been the branch manager for more than eight years at the Penticton shelter on Dartmouth St.

Working for the BC SPCA is a dream job for Hawkins. “I have been an animal lover my whole life.”

She has been with the BC SPCA since 1998, first as a volunteer fostering more than 100 dogs and puppies and started working in 2000 in the shelter in Nanaimo. Eventually she made her way to beautiful Penticton and has loved working with donors, animals and the staff.

The difficult part of the job is seeing animals that have been abused or mistreated.

While adoptions have increased during the pandemic, so have cruelty cases, said Hawkins.

“One of the toughest cases I’ve ever dealt with was that large scale cruelty case out of Princeton where 69 dogs were seized and many horses.”

READ MORE: More than 100 dogs and horses seized from Princeton breeder

“A lot of the dogs came to us and to our Kelowna branch but then some of the puppies had Parvo,” she said. They lost 10 puppies to Parvo that were only 12 weeks old.

“That was extremely hard to deal with,” she said.

This is one of 69 puppies and young dogs rescued from extensive abuse at a breeders home in Princeton September 2020. (SPCA photo)

This is one of 69 puppies and young dogs rescued from extensive abuse at a breeders home in Princeton September 2020. (SPCA photo)

But once the dogs were treated and cared for, almost all the dogs were adopted out to some ‘fabulous’ homes, she said.

“The best part is seeing these animals that have been through so much find their forever homes,” she said.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the BC SPCA has had to close their branches to the public, and cancel all physical events, making it challenging to raise funds needed to care for animals.

Carolyn participated in the SPCA’s Lock In for Love during the beginning of the pandemic. Her goal was to raise $1,500 for the fundraiser. She raised $2,270.

The SPCA’s main fundraiser at the Barking Parrot couldn’t happen in 2020.

Luckily, one of their strongest supporters, Barry Zarundenec joined with his Penticton Elks to raise an impressive $5,000 for the local shelter. That cheque was presented recently.



monique.Tamminga@pentictonwesternnews.com

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