An aging animal shelter in Duncan will be replaced with a new, state-of-the-art, first-of-its-kind facility, the province announced Monday.
The B.C. government is providing $12 million to help build BC SPCA shelter replacements across the province, including $1 million to replace a 27-year-old facility in Duncan, reads a news release.
In Duncan, the redevelopment plan is for a 7,500-square-foot Vancouver Island Animal Behaviour Centre on the existing site, and the province says it will be the first animal behaviour centre of its kind in Canada.
The BC SPCA says construction is scheduled to start in late 2024, with completion in late 2025 or early 2026.
A $7-million replacement shelter is also planned for Vancouver, while $3-million and $1-million shelters are planned for Prince George and Fort St. John, respectively.
The province notes that none of the existing four shelters, either closed or outdated, are designed or equipped to provide modern care.
Marcie Moriarty, chief of protection and outreach services with the BC SPCA, says the society’s day-to-day animal care and protection services are primarily funded by donors across B.C., “so having the province step forward to help with these extraordinary costs will make a tremendous difference.”
The province says it is estimated the four facilities will offer care to thousands of pets per year, ranging from cats and dogs to rabbits and rodents.
SPCA staff are seeing an increase in anxious, fearful and under-socialized animals coming into their care, according to Leon Davis, senior manager for the society’s Vancouver Island and Powell River Animal Care Services.
“On Vancouver Island, depending on the community, this can be as much as 18 per cent of dogs and 30 per cent of cats in our care. The new Vancouver Island Animal Behaviour Centre in Cowichan will give many animals a chance to go on to live happy lives with loving families,” said Davis.
For B.C. Premier David Eby, pets are part of the family.
In the release, he says it’s all too common to hear about abandoned or mistreated animals, and the new facilities will provide them with “the high-quality care they need and deserve before they find new homes.”
The province says it’s also resuming work on a new licensing framework for dog and cat breeders that will “protect pets from unethical breeders by strengthening the regulation of the industry,” reads the release.
“The intention is to raise the standard of care, management and the humane treatment of dogs and cats in commercial breeding establishments.”