Re-born WAG looking for animal lovers
Animal assistance group seeks volunteers and foster homes
By Andy Stonehouse
Whistler's volunteer-run animal protection organization is once again back on its feet and searching for some new people who'd like to help out the community's fur-bearing population.
After an uncertain year, Whistler Animals Galore has returned to action with a new overall co-ordinator, Kristen Kadis. She has launched a recruitment and fund-raising drive, and says the group particularly needs to find foster homes for animals.
"Our new plan is to find a co-ordinator for each facet of our operations, like collecting coin boxes or walking dogs, and get groups of volunteers for each," she said. "That way, it's not all riding on one person, and if they leave, it doesn't completely fall apart."
Kadis said that while interest was initially strong in WAG, the organization recently came close to folding as volunteer and financial support dwindled.
Kimberly Lord, animal control officer for the municipal bylaw department, said she hopes Kadis will be successful in finding a stable and reliable base of new volunteers.
"It came to a stage about two years ago when they really had only four volunteers, and everyone had been in the program so long they'd become burned out," Lord said.
At the time, a new paid program co-ordinator was hired and about 20 new volunteers came on, but Lord said the system never got off the ground and she was left carrying out much of the work herself.
"Even when the volunteers existed, the program wasn't really working for me. They weren't doing their jobs, and I had to take on a lot of the responsibilities on my own time."
Despite the shortfall in help, Lord said she and others at the bylaw department were able to find homes for all of the animals brought through the pound, and none needed to be euthanized.
Lord said many of WAG's long-time volunteers simply resorted to offering direct support at the animal shelter, and she thanks them for their help in saving and finding homes for approximately 20 animals last year.
She also credits the valley's veterinarians for their assistance, particularly in providing medical help to abandoned animals and boarding space for stray cats.
However, Lord said the municipal budget to help provide cash for medical assistance for animals is beginning to dry up, and she hopes that WAG will be successful in its fund-raising efforts.
"Our medical funds are very low, and it's a concern of mine that we'll have the resources to treat animals when they come in."
Kadis said the search is on for more people to help answer WAG's telephone lines or offer their homes as foster care space for both dogs and cats, as space is limited at the municipal pound.
"We're still looking for people to commit more than the average amount of time. It's good volunteer experience in a field they might be interested in working in in the future."
Kadis said WAG's new information and referral line (938-8642) has been in full operation for three weeks, with long-time volunteer Barbara Ayers still co-ordinating the calls.
Kadis said a first volunteer meeting is planned for the Westbrook Hotel on Aug. 18, and anyone interested in lending a hand should attend. WAG's next scheduled event will be its annual doggie wash on Aug. 29 and 30 and volunteers will be needed.