by Marg LeGuilloux
with Penny Stone
Q. How did the NEW Victoria Humane Society come to be?
A. I’ve always had a crazy love of animals, bringing home strays and injured animals my whole life. I joined the BCSPCA in Victoria 10 years ago and loved being able to make a difference in so many animals’ lives. After leaving the SPCA last year, I was thrilled to be asked to help the Whistler Sled Dog Company in finding forever homes for dogs left at the site after the horrible massacre years ago. I helped in finding homes for more than 100 sled dogs. When it came to the point that all these dogs were safe, I knew I couldn’t stop “rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming”. And so, with my wonderful long-time associate Carol Broad, who has operated Victoria Adoptables Dog Rescue since 2004, and with a small team of amazing people — the Victoria Humane Society was born.
Q. Who are the other people involved with deciding to start this new charity?
A. Well-known local animal welfare individuals involved with the administration, organization and hands-on work of the Victoria Humane Society include Cory Bond, Marty Mezeros, Melissa Medve and Ivanna Halliday.
Collectively our team has decades of experience in rescuing, rehabilitating and finding new homes for animals in need, with a specific focus on assisting animals in rural and remote communities.
Many other volunteers are rallying with us. We’re all brought together by our love for animals and an intense focus on one guiding principle: “What is the right thing to do for these animals?”
Q. What are the short term and long term goals?
A. Short term, our main focus is to find an appropriate site in Greater Victoria for a shelter, but a location hasn’t been chosen yet. At this time, rescued animals are being placed in foster homes until they are adopted.
Long term, we’re focusing on finding and expanding our sources of funding, building up our base of amazing volunteers, and improving animal care education in our community through information sessions and the media.
We want to continue to provide leadership in inspiring the Greater Victoria region to create a more compassionate future where animals are valued, protected and treated with respect.
Q. How is the Victoria Humane Society different from the SPCA?
A. The Victoria Humane Society is not affiliated with the BCSPCA. We are a separate, independently operated humane society that serves the needs of
￼animals in need in B.C., and we currently receive no provincial funding. We operate entirely through private donors and sponsors. We’re different also in that our Board of Directors and administrators are all local, living in the Greater Victoria region, so we make decisions based on our knowledge of what is going on and what is needed right here in our own community.
The Victoria Humane Society does not have legal authority to investigate or prosecute cases of animal cruelty.
Q. Are you affiliated with Humane Society of Canada, or any other organization?
A. The Humane Society of Canada does not have any authority or connection with the Victoria Humane Society. The Victoria Humane Society does not receive any funding from any national organizations. We really encourage people who would like to make a donation to us to visit our website and make a donation directly through there.
We operate entirely independently, and the Victoria Humane Society is run locally, by experienced animal welfare individuals with deep roots in our community.￼
Q. Where do your animals come from?
A. Lost or stray animals, and pets surrendered by their owners make up the majority of the animals that come into our care. We work closely with remote communities (who have no options for the many stray and abandoned animals in their areas) to bring their animals to us to help give them a chance at a better life.
Q. You’ve mentioned a particular focus on helping out in rural and remote communities. Why do dogs in these areas need particular help?
A. In way too many remote and rural areas, dogs are unsterilized, starving and homeless. Countless others are shot in a bid to control overpopulation problems.
The sad reality is that these communities have limited resources and veterinary services, and virtually no resources to address animal welfare. Thanks to the generosity of Pacific Coastal airlines and our volunteers, we can provide help without diminishing the care and attention we give to local animals.
Q. Animal rescue is not an easy thing to do. What keeps you going, after all these years of this difficult work?
A. There’s nothing so rewarding as seeing in an animal’s eyes the change you can make by just being there and caring for them. To see the ever-so- slight wag of a tail of an ill or fearful dog who now feels a little better or a little safer, or the spark of life and quiet little purr returning to a cat who had given up hope – these things make it all WAY worth the time and effort.
For sure, my experiences in animal rescue over the years have been at times
deeply moving, and other times deeply disturbing. Absolutely, opening our hearts and homes to these animals can sometimes be really overwhelming. But I and the team I’m so lucky to be working with are deeply committed to making sure that the treasures that come into our care find the safe, happy futures they deserve. It’s nothing short of a miracle when this happens, when so many of these animals beat the enormous odds to find safety and love in their new lives.
Our Victoria Humane Society team believes that if everyone does something – adopt, foster, volunteer, donate – together, we really can change the lives of thousands of animals. Nothing is impossible, we just have to believe.
Q. How can people help, and what are you needing most?
A. We rely so much on people’s generous donations of cash, time, and items. Cash and gift cards are greatly appreciated, because they let us buy exactly what we need, when we need it. We’re a registered charity and so these donations are tax-deductible.
Some people prefer to volunteer, or to donate or buy items. We really encourage everyone to visit both the ‘Volunteer’ section and the ‘Wish List’ section of our website for more information on the various ways they can make a difference in the lives of the animals.
Victoria Humane Society website: www.victoriahumanesociety.com