KAMLOOPS - Kamloops foster volunteer Julie Ondang, along with Aberdeen Veterinary Hospital and its owners, veterinarians Dr. Ken Gummeson and Dr. Diane McKelvey, was honoured at a dinner ceremony in Abbotsford May 6.
Since starting out fostering cats and kittens in 2012, Ondang has fostered 136 felines for the B.C. SPCA Kamloops and District Branch.
“Julie is an absolutely amazing foster volunteer! She never says ‘no’ to fostering and is always willing to try,” Kamloops SPCA interim branch manager Alyssa Kyllo says, noting that no matter how many foster cats or kittens Julie has, she maintains the highest biosecurity levels and keeps detailed records on each animal, as well as maintaining a blog and a kitty cam. “Julie is always willing to take on new animals and to provide round-the-clock care with compassion. This includes taking on cats or kittens with challenging medical conditions or those who have come into B.C. SPCA care from situations of neglect.”
Julie is also a resource to the Kamloops SPCA, training new fosters on how to bottle-feed kittens, and drafting a bottle-feeding chart to track and record the progress of the kittens – a system that was shared with other SPCA branches across the province. She has also volunteered with trap-neuter-return efforts to help Kamloops SPCA staff combat the province’s massive cat overpopulation problem.
“Despite working full time, co-owning a restaurant and being a mother, Julie takes on extra tasks, such as typing, data entry or fundraising,” Kyllo says, noting she and her partner Floyd offered to host the branch annual general meeting at their restaurant at no charge for the space. “Taking animals into your home, loving them, and letting them go requires a special person, and Julie goes above and beyond, every time. There are countless animals who have been helped by Julie – we don’t know what we’d do without her.”
Having opened their new veterinary hospital in January of 2015, Diane and Ken were busy building their practice, but they reached out to the B.C. SPCA Kamloops and District Branch to see how they could be a resource to the shelter. Since then, they and their team at Aberdeen Veterinary Hospital have helped more than 200 shelter animals.
“They routinely offer discounted and after-hours procedures to help the branch save money, and their clinic is always open to see animals on short notice, no matter how busy they are,” Kyllo says. “In addition to promoting animals they’ve helped on social media, they also sponsor and support BC SPCA events every chance they get. We don’t know what we’d do without them!”
Both Diane and Ken note that it’s not just them who help animals in need.
“We couldn’t do it without everyone here – the vet techs, our receptionists, the cleaning staff, our IT expert – it really is a team effort,” says Diane. “The Kamloops SPCA staff and volunteers and fosters are all so great to work with, especially because it’s not always easy – some of the animals have such sad stories.”
The award is certainly appreciated, Ken says.
“We were surprised and very flattered to learn we’d won the award,” he says. “It’s great for the entire team at the hospital – we like to contribute where we can, and the Kamloops SPCA makes what can be a very difficult job, very rewarding.”