The end of 2018 and into 2019, the Spirit’s Mission Board of Directors realized that even though they were providing an essential service, the work wasn’t sustainable. Animals continued to need help after they left communities. How could the community be supported to care for the animals after Spirit’s Mission left?
“The Board needed to learn how to bring tools for sustainable change to these communities. We realized the service we were providing did not address the root cause of why so many animals needed help. We were just providing a ‘band-aid’ approach for people and animals, who deserve much more”, says Kerri-Lynne Wilson, Vice-President of Spirit’s Mission Rescue Society.
The Board started talking to the leaders of successful provincial, national and international animal welfare organizations. These are the “movers and shakers” that are making sustainable changes in animal welfare. The Board worked for a year researching how to identify root causes and learned best practices to sustain animal welfare in Indigenous communities. They took formal training and worked with their partner communities to gain a deeper understanding of cultures. Their research and collaborations were put together to design a workable program for sustainable change. The result was the new Spirit’s Mission’s Animal Care and Management Program, designed to provide the best possible animal welfare/management sustainability programs tailored for each community.
This program is a first for BC and the second in Canada. “At present, there is a huge gap that exists in the way companion animal rescues have been dealing with animal management issues. Most rescues are busy, under-funded, overextended and overwhelmed with vaccinating, deworming, removing and rehoming strays/unwanted animals, and sterilizing pets”, says Wilson. “This is vital and crucial work but it isn’t solving the root cause of why these issues exist in the first place. This is where Spirit’s Mission is focusing”.
Partnerships with other rescues who are working within isolated and under-served Indigenous communities are very important. Typically, these communities are in Northern, BC. Spirit’s Mission is hosting an upcoming animal rescue meeting in Northern BC to collaborate and form partnerships.
“When a community is ready, willing, and wants to partner with us to implement jointly-created sustainable programs, we are here to share tools and resources. Responsible companion animal management resides with the Chief and Band Council within each community. “In the end, we take direction from the Chief and Band Council. We are their guests”, says Wilson.
Spirit’s Mission has partnered with Saik’uz First Nation which is located in Northern BC, southwest of Vanderhoof. They are the first community in BC to start using this program. This past summer they also provided animal health services to 84 cats in Tsah’alh, a community northwest of Lillooet. “Our best references come from the communities we have worked with and learned with,” Wilson adds. “This is about helping people to help animals”.
Spirit’s Mission is also beginning talks with four other isolated communities who want our help.
Spirit’s Mission’s Animal Care and Management Program is a comprehensive, culturally appropriate and humane animal management program. Joint partnerships with communities’ help create and continuously improve on the program so it can be shared successfully in other communities. This is the cornerstone of sustainable animal welfare.
Interested communities are welcome to ask questions to determine if the program can work for them. Spirit’s Mission Rescue Society can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org