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WAG looks for support in corridor's north end

With only one in four dogs from Whistler, shelter's funding could be in jeopardy

Whistler Animals Galore (WAG) may be a bit of a misnomer for the animal shelter since only 25 per cent of the dogs it assists are from Whistler.

In contrast, 63 per cent of the dogs WAG receives are from the Mount Currie and Pemberton areas.

WAG executive director Carol Coffey pointed out these statistics at a presentation to the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) board on Feb. 27. Coffey added this number could have a negative effect on current funding.

Currently, WAG receives approximately half its annual operating budget, $73,500, from the RMOW. A matching amount is generated through the organization’s fundraising efforts.

"We realize the RMOW funds could be reduced and we don’t want to see the service jeopardized in the region," said Coffee.

The SLRD presentation was a step towards WAG formalizing a partnership with the regional district. Last year the SLRD provided $3,000 in funding to WAG. This year the organization was seeking $5,000, a contact person and the commitment to an ongoing partnership.

"I’m certainly appreciative of the work WAG does and last year I was happy to contribute. Animal control is becoming an increasing issue in the Pemberton area. I would like an opportunity to sit down with our neighbours and discuss what to do," said Susie Gimse, director for Electoral Area C. "At this point I am reluctant to commit to a specific number until I go over the budget. I am happy to talk to the Area D director and come up with a number."

Area B director, Mickey Macri also cited budgetary concerns in committing $500 to the cause.

"I wish it could be $1,500, but I’m just not sure there’s the money," he said.

Marianne Wade, former RMOW councillor and animal advocate, was part of the WAG delegation. She affirmed that what WAG was doing was laying the foundation for partnership development.

"WAG needs to form partnerships over the next couple of years. We need to take agreements and information back to the RMOW with a three-year plan to show how we’re going to do it," said Wade.

At the end of the presentation, director Gimse committed to spearheading organizing a meeting with affected SLRD directors, to address financial issues and establish a point person.

To date, only Mount Currie has formalized a relationship with WAG, committing to an annual cash contribution of $4,000. This past fall marked the first time WAG had worked with Mount Currie in executing a hugely successful neuter and spay program that saw 78 dogs undergo surgery over four consecutive Sundays.

WAG made a similar presentation to the Village of Pemberton mid-February. At that meeting the post-presentation discussion centred around bylaw enforcement as it pertained to unlicensed dogs in the Pemberton area. Mayor Jordan Sturdy asked if it would be possible for WAG to take on selling Pemberton dog tags as well as Whistler tags. Coffee and WAG chair Jenny Angus concurred that such a move could be feasible.

Sturdy referred Wag’s request for $3,000 to the finance committee and assured the organization that a decision would be made within a month.