KAMLOOPS – 'Adopt rather than shop' often rings out when it comes to finding a new fuzzy friend and there are several local organizations to check out. With the abundance of pets in need of homes, here are a few places to start the search.
Veterinary Technicians to-be train at the TRU Animal Health Technology program which doubles as an adoption agency for cats and dogs.
Animals arrive at the centre from the SPCA or local rescue groups and most have behavioural issues that need to be addressed. This is where work begins for the students and faculty.
Each month, students are assigned a patient and work with the animals to get them properly socialized and ready to adopt out.
Animals leave tattooed, micro-chipped, vaccinated, spayed or neutered, and undergo any needed medical or dental work. The animals take a clean bill of health or in some cases, a good idea of any underlying medical conditions with them to their new homes.
Sydney Van Eyk, second year student says the program is demanding and involves much more than just cuddling critters.
"This program has been the most challenging experience of my life. You have to really want to be here to make it work," Van Eyk says.
One of the more difficult aspects of the program is learning the veterinary technicians' role in euthanasia.
"In practice you see euthanasia. It's not for the faint of heart. You have to know that it's part of the practice," aspiring wildlife worker and first year student Rebecca White says.
"We are right there when it happens in clinics. Our job is to talk the owners through it. We really do take a lot of that the burden on," Van Eyk says. "We provide comfort and understanding to them. It's rewarding to know that you are helping an animal to be no longer in pain."
Animals are available for adoption twice annually in late November and late March. Right now, five cats and one dog are in need of a new home.
Faculty member Tara Geiger says it’s very common for students to form a bond with their animal patients and end up adopting them. In White’s case, she bonded with Rex, a social and silly 1-year-old dog she brought home on April 7.
Prospective pet parents should check the adoption website for available animals, call to make an appointment, and fill out an adoption form. The cost to adopt a pet is $75.
An unconventional place to adopt locally is through the city's Bylaw department.
When stray dogs are picked up, officers try to find the owners and will hold the animals for 96 hours, according to John Ramsay, community safety enforcement manager.
"We do our best to find the owners. Of course, if the animal has a dog tag we can find them much faster," Ramsay says.
If the owner doesn't come forward in the set time period, the animal is posted to kijiji.ca for $75. While in care, the dogs are taken to the vet if the handlers observe any medical issues.
Ramsay stressed the importance of proper identification on tags and the power social media has when it comes to getting lost pets back home. Bylaw officers are picking up fewer dogs than they used to, because of people's tendency to share missing pet posts online.
The few stray cats that are found go to the SPCA and the dogs stay at 1303 Mission Flats Road. Interested adopters may meet the animal in a designated space at the facility.
Ramsay says to call ahead of time and officers will share information about any available dogs.
The more common place to adopt from is the B.C. SPCA. The advocacy group takes in and tries to re-home a wide variety of animals from cats, dogs and rabbits, to reptiles and horses.
SPCA staff can usually offer a good overview of the animals' personality, any special needs, and medical conditions.
The Kamloops SPCA charges $95 for cat adoptions and $120 for kittens under six months. Dogs are $249 and prices go up for toy size breeds and puppies.
To adopt from the SPCA, an adoption form must be filled out to schedule a meeting with the animal.
There are plenty of options for adopting, and bit of background information and history can helpful in the quest to add a new four-legged companion to the household.
"We share all the information we can because we don't want people getting into something they can't handle. Ultimately we just want them to be happy in a home," Van Eyk says.
To check out the animals available from the TRU animal health technology program, click here.
To see animals available from the Kamloops SPCA, click here.
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