Thank you for helping animals in 2020!
VHS would like to thank all our amazing donors, volunteers, and partners for your support this year. Because of you we were able continue our vital work to make life better for animals.
Here are some of the year’s highlights and achievements that you made possible.
McVitie Fund emergency veterinary help
During the year, donors to our McVitie Fund enabled us to help a record-breaking 165 animals by providing emergency medical assistance to the animal companions of people on limited incomes. COVID-19 increased demand for the McVitie Fund, which is vital to people who are experiencing a period of life with low or no income but still love and care for their pet companions. When these animals get injured or sick, they need a safety net so they can stay in their loving home.
VHS launched two campaigns against the cruel and dangerous wildlife trade during the year. In April, we started an online petition, signed by more than 3400 people, calling on the B.C. government to strengthen regulation of the sale and ownership of wild and exotic animals in the province. In May, we launched an email campaign urging the federal government to do more to combat the wildlife trade. Nearly 3500 people sent messages to government ministers supporting our call. We also had three opinion editorials on the issue published in the news media.
We also spoke out on behalf of owls and bears threatened by logging operations, launching a petition calling on the government to halt logging in their habitat on the Sunshine Coast.
VHS supported animal advocates calling for a ban on rodenticides following the poisoning in June of an owl in North Vancouver. The owl, later dubbed “Lucky” was rescued by a VHS supporter. Wildlife are often the victims of poisons used by businesses, landlords, municipalities and homeowners to control rodent populations. VHS has submitted letters of support for municipal rodenticide bans and will advocate for a province-wide ban. Several municipalities now have bans in place.
In August, VHS launched a campaign calling on the Vancouver Park Board to remove the horse-drawn trolley from Stanley Park. Having horse-drawn trolleys or carriages in urban settings is just not safe. This became clear in 2016, when the Stanley Park trolley’s horses were spooked by traffic noise and bolted, nearly taking a trolley full of tourists off the sea wall. Nearly 7000 people signed our petitions to the Park Board to remove the trolley.
In March, prior to the cancellation of most Canadian rodeos because of COVID-19, VHS initiated a campaign against the Calgary Stampede chuckwagon race. Our petition urging General Motors Canada to stop sponsoring the race, garnered 2500 signatures. We also had an opinion editorial published, making the case for General Motors to drop their support for the race. We will continue to campaign against the Calgary Stampede and other rodeos in 2021.
In November, VHS spoke out against a decision by the pork industry to delay the phase-out of cruel gestation crates (cages in which pregnant sows are kept so confined they cannot event turn around). The industry, despite promising to phase-out the crates by 2024, wants to delay this to 2029. We launched a petition calling on the Retail Council of Canada, which represents major grocers, to honour the commitment it made to stop sourcing pork from farms using gestation crates. We also had an opinion editorial published on the issue.
We signed on a joint letter to the federal Minister of Finance and Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, calling on the federal government to dedicate any COVID-19 emergency funding for the agricultural sector, as well as any future funding, on phasing out industrial livestock operations and assisting farmers in transitioning toward a sustainable, ethical and equitable plant-based food system. Signatories included other animal protection groups, environmental and food advocacy groups. We set up a campaign allowing our supporters to send a pre-written email to their MPs.
We produced a podcast episode aimed at answering some of the big, challenging questions about plant-based foods.
We hosted an online talk featuring Dr. Lisa Kramer, a behavioural economist at the University of Toronto, entitled “Is the Future of Meat Plant-based?”. Watch the video.
For our Go Veg campaign, we used billboards, elevators ads, Facebook ads, online ads and a direct mailing with an outcome of more than 6 million impressions by people in the Vancouver lower mainland.
We sent out 52 recipes for folks interested in learning more about plant-based cooking through our email list of folks who took the pledge to increase their plant-based meal consumption.
New report about helping people and pets to address ‘neglect’
In December VHS produced a report, titled “Addressing Animal Neglect Through the Provision of Veterinary Services,” designed to encourage a trauma-informed approach to help vulnerable people to get veterinary assistance for their pets. The emphasis is to allow people to maintain the human-animal bond, with relinquishment of their pets the absolute last option. Focusing on relationships between veterinary clinics, social service agencies, and people who have been placed-at-risk but structural inequities, VHS is committed to ensuring animals do not suffer the loss of their guardians due to lack of money or difficulty travelling to veterinary clinics. VHS is grateful to the Vancouver Foundation for funding the report.
Helping women and pets in crisis
In November, VHS joined with the North Shore Crisis Services Society (NSCSS) to launch the first partnership in a project designed to help women and pets in crisis.
The project, funded in part by a $30,000 grant from PetSmart Charities® of Canada, will help homeless and loosely housed women who face barriers to accessing housing and support because they have pets. Many support facilities do not have the knowledge or capacity to address the animal health issues that come with housing pets.
The project will provide funding for preventative and urgent veterinary costs for pets, ensuring they are in good health and not a risk to human health. This could include medical treatments; flea, tick and deworming treatment; vaccinations and health checks.
Women are uniquely affected by homelessness because they are less likely to appear in shelters, drop-ins, public spaces, or access social services. They are undercounted in research, and an estimated 700 women are turned away each day from domestic violence shelters. They are also more likely to live in cars, experience domestic violence, to be abused as live-in caregivers, to experience physical, emotional and sexual abuse, and to be forced to engage in survival sex or human trafficking.
Greater Vancouver Zoo
VHS’s report on the Greater Vancouver Zoo was launched in December 2018 but attracted media in 2019, with coverage in a total of 21 media outlets and publication of a VHS opinion editorial. More than 2800 people took part in our e-campaign, urging the zoo to improve conditions for its animals. The report was sent to CAZA (Canada’s Accredited Zoos & Aquariums) and to the provincial Director of Wildlife and Habitat. We will continue to hold the zoo account for its treatment of the animals it holds.
In November, VHS launched a campaign calling for members of the public to pledge to boycott sled dog tours. The campaign has collected more than 3300 pledges. Sled dogs can be kept tethered for as long as 23 hours a day and it is still legal for tour operators to shoot surplus sled dogs. The data from the campaign will be used to gauge public support for future campaigns targeting the sled dog tour industry.
Near the end of the year, we spoke out about the plight of farmed minks when an outbreak of COVID-19 occurred at Fraser Valley mink farm. Minks are kept in tiny wire cages with no opportunity to express natural behaviours, compromising their welfare. VHS had an opinion editorial published, calling for a ban on fur-farming and was quoted in local media about the issue.
With COVID-19 putting classrooms online, VHS mobilized and created resources for kids that don’t put animals at risk of suffering. Two PDF guides about wild and farmed animals, as well as a colouring sheet, help to connect kids with animals in a way that doesn’t harm animals.
Thank you for helping us achieve so much for animals during this challenging year.
There is still so much more to do in our work for animals in 2021, and despite our efforts, animals continue to suffer every day. Please consider making an end-of-year donation, to enable us to continue advocating on behalf of all animals today and in the future. All donations made before midnight on December 31st, will receive a tax receipt for the 2020 financial year.