'I TRULY BELIEVED WE WERE ALL DOING OUR BEST. WE WERE MISGUIDED...'
VERNON - Volunteers at a controversial dog rescue are hoping to clear up confusion as they try to find homes for remaining dogs and wind down the society, all while the former president appears to be trying to continue on her own.
In November 2015, Saving Grace Dog Rescue announced it was unable to operate in accordance with non-profit society regulations and ‘could not be run at this time.’ In an iNFOnews.ca investigation, several past volunteers accused the rescue, and its president, of ongoing questionable practices including flipping dogs for profit.
A number of dogs were in the rescue’s care at the time, and over the past month, a group of past and present volunteers and board members came together to find them homes. They are doing so independently of the society’s founder and president, Kimberly Gillis, who continues to decline requests for interviews.
Tara Holliday, the rescue’s former vice-president and one of five volunteers who spoke out against its practices, says the remaining adoptable dogs are posted on this Facebook page. Adoption fees for the dogs will go towards settling the society's unpaid bills, she says.
“Hopefully the dogs get good homes,” Holliday says.
Donna Meads, who got involved with the rescue in February 2015 and became the foster coordinator in November, says prospective adopters must provide references and also go through a home-check. The dogs have been looked over by a vet, she says, however previous vet records are not available in all cases.
“Everything is disclosed, any behavioural issues, any health issues. We try to be as honest as possible,” Meads says. “A lot of people are leery because the name Saving Grace is attached to it. We explain to the best of our ability what we’re doing as a group, and (that) all the funds are going to pay the vet bills off.”
Meads is also hoping that any leftover money from adoption fees can be used to reimburse fosters who incurred vet costs while volunteering for the rescue, including one woman whose own dogs got ill from being around a sick rescue dog.
Meads says the group of volunteers is doing its best to put the rescue’s affairs in order and clean up what she describes as a ‘chaotic mess.’
“In all honesty, I truly believed we were all doing our best,” Meads says. “We were all misguided by (the president) and misinformed, and told things that weren’t true. We were always scrambling to get things figured out.”
Aside from adopting dogs and donating to vet clinics, Holliday says another way people can help is to donate to the SPCA, which she says has two Saving Grace dogs in its care requiring expensive medical treatment.
There’s some indication Gillis intends to continue operating the rescue under a new board of directors, however we have been unable to reach her for comment. A Facebook page called Saving Grace Dog Rescue: Canada is live, and a description states: ‘Saving Grace Dog Rescue closes during the holiday season and will be re-open again in the New Year.’ We contacted the administrator of the page but our request for an interview was declined.
Vet offices accepting donations include Asher Road Animal Hospital and Cache Creek Veterinary Hospital.
Donations to Asher Road Animal Hospital can be made on behalf of The Groom Room Pet Grooming, and the clinic can be reached at 778-753-3507. Donations can also be made on the clinic’s website.
Cache Creek Veterinary Hospital can be reached at 250-457-6203 and donations can be made towards the Saving Grace account.
Descriptions of the adoptable dogs can be found here.
Read past articles on Saving Grace here.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at email@example.com or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-718-2724.
— This article was updated at 10 a.m. Feb. 9, 2016 to say Donna Meads became the foster coordinator in November 2015.