Like many businesses, the impact of COVID-19 has changed the operating procedures for the Comox Valley SPCA.
Emily Priestley, branch manager for the Valley chapter, said public restrictions are in place to SPCA shelters until further notice. They are only open to the public by appointment for adoptions and emergency surrenders only.
She added in order to protect staff, volunteers and members of the public during the pandemic, the change was necessary.
“Staff shortages and the need to limit the number of people in the shelter has reduced our normal service capacity. Staff and volunteers will continue to be on site caring for the animals, and to provide emergency treatment and ongoing care for animals who come into our custody through cruelty investigations.”
Currently, the branch is unable to accept surrendered animals, except in emergency situations and may not be able to accept strays in all locations.
Priestley said if an individual is experiencing an emergency and cannot keep an animal, even temporarily, to leave the information with the branch and it will respond as quickly as possible to set up an appointment.
The organization encourages anyone interested in adopting an animal to view them online at spca.bc.ca.
“If you are interested in an animal, please fill out the online adoption application and our staff will contact you with more information and to set up an appointment and for you to meet the animal. Maintaining the flow of animals into new, loving homes will enable us to continue helping new animals at risk, even with limited staffing.”
The local branch is in desperate need for food for their food bank as the number of animals in the community needing assistance is growing due to economic concerns.
The branch will be doing what they can to help people keep their animals, confirmed Priestley. She added they currently assist many homes in the community and are expecting that number to rise.
“If anyone has any food to spare, please leave it at the door of the branch. We know that many of our generous supporters have been impacted by COVID-19 and you may not be in a position to help right now. We understand and thank you so much for all you have done for the animals – you have helped save so many lives,” she noted.
“For those who are able to help, your support is urgently needed. People are welcome to donate over the phone to us, online or through our provincial office. If you specify you would like the money to stay in the Valley, they will make this happen.”
Although the branch’s services are limited, complaints of suspected animal cruelty or abuse can be made through the BC SPCA Call Centre at 1-855-622-7722. Priestly said the cruelty investigations team is responding to calls, with enhanced safety precautions in place.