Community pitches in for animals 

New, purpose-built WAG shelter should open in spring

More than a dozen businesses and community members have been lending a helping hand in the construction of Whistler’s new animal shelter.

Construction Manager Ned Johnson, who is a partner in Innovation Building Group and is donating his construction management services free of charge, said he’ll be looking for even more volunteers as construction moves into the finishing stages.

The shelter, which is tucked into the small plot of land on Nesters Road beside the recycling depot, should be finished by the spring. The framing is already complete and the roof is on. The plumbers, electricians and other trades are next in line.

"There have been a lot of businesses that have done what they can in terms of contribution, in terms of lowering their rates and different things, which has been really nice," said Johnson. "We still are in need of some skilled trades to lend a hand to help out with the building. Basically when we get to the finishing stage we’re in need of finishing carpenters to help out on the inside of the building, which would be a big help."

In particular, he notes that Innovation Building Group has provided office services free of charge, Brandywine Excavating has provided services at cost, Griff Building Supplies out of Vancouver supplied all framing materials at cost and Sabre Rentals has given 50 per cent off all rentals. More companies have also put down their names for help in the future as the project moves ahead.

Fortunately for the WAG builders, the lack of snow this season has worked in their favour.

The cold snap, on the other hand, is really affecting the way of life at the current WAG (Whistler Animals Galore) shelter. Shelter Director Carol Coffey said they are running space heaters during the day to bring up the temperature but throughout the night it can get very chilly in the drafty building.

The shelter doesn’t have a lot of animals at the moment and the few animals there, such as the six-week old pup called Cindy Lou, have been fostered out for the time being. They will come back to the shelter when it’s warmer.

"We had somebody donate a bunch of carpet to us and we stapled it up to the walls and the ceiling and the counter and it really made a difference," said Coffey. "Whereas last year when it was really cold we couldn’t keep the temperature much above zero degrees in there… this year it seems to be hovering around 15 degrees, which is a much more comfortable temperature for the animals."

But she’s counting down the days until she can close the door on the old shelter and step into the new place where there will be proper ventilation for the cats and dogs, an adoption room and a clean warm home. An added bonus she said is that the WAG workers will also have a washroom for the first time and won’t have to venture outside to a building across the road for bathroom breaks any longer.

In the meantime WAG is getting on with business as usual. Coffey encourages all cat owners to keep their pets indoors. There are coyotes preying on cats and she said it would be a good time to convert outdoor cats to indoor cats. For tips call WAG at 604-905-7750. She also emphasizes the importance of keeping all dogs on leash when walking them in the resort.

If anyone is interested in donating their carpentry skills to the shelter, contact Ned Johnson at 604-905-8560. He’s also always looking for volunteers whenever there’s a big snow dump to help shovel the walkways and the roof and for general clean up of the site.

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