We’re excited to partner with Tags for Hope in offering their beautiful pet ID tags to our supporters, with 35% of all proceeds coming back to Vancouver Humane! These are quite possibly the best tags available for your companion animals (and make great keychains!), as there’s space for contact info, medical needs, and even your vet’s contact info on the back!
We like to tell people who support our McVitie Fund for sick and injured animals about the many happy endings the fund has achieved.
Sometimes, however, the ending is not the one we hoped for. And yet, even these stories of love, loss and bittersweet memory illustrate why we do what we do.
Eleven years ago Bam Bam was a cross-eyed kitten with a broken tail that no one wanted to adopt. Passed over by everyone, he eventually won the heart of a care-giver at the adoption centre. “He adopted me, really,” said staff member Kerry. “He always jumped on my shoulder and would kiss my face when I would come to feed him.”
Bam Bam turned into one of those “big personality” cats – demanding to sleep between Kerry and her husband Jamie every night or meowing while pushing his food bowl around the room to remind everyone that it was dinnertime. He was a little goofy, constantly bumping into sliding glass doors. But no cat was ever more loved.
Then one day Bam Bam began to lose weight and stopped eating. The first diagnosis suggested dental work was needed. That was done but still he wouldn’t eat. Test after test could not pinpoint what was wrong and Kerry and Jamie were running out funds. That’s when they reached out to VHS.
Our McVitie Fund paid for further diagnostics to discover the answer: Bam Bam had a very aggressive cancer. It was heartbreaking news but it meant Kerry and Jamie could now focus on making sure Bam Bam’s remaining days were comfortable and pain-free. With the help of a compassionate vet, he passed away peacefully.
Anyone who has loved a companion animal knows this story. It happens to all of us. It’s wonderful when we can save a sick or injured animal, but when we can’t it is so important that we ensure they leave us without pain and knowing only the comfort of our presence.
Thanks to generous supporters, our McVitie Fund works to ensure animals enjoy lives of good health, fun, adventure and love. When those lives are sometimes unavoidably cut short, we think it’s just as important that they experience only peace.
Please help us with a donation to the McVitie Fund. It will make a big difference to an animal who needs help. Even if it’s help to say good-bye.
Right now, your donation to the McVitie Fund will be doubled by a kind, anonymous donor – up to $20,000. We’re over halfway there – can you help?
In a recent article in the Globe and Mail, columnist Margaret Wente described the emotional ordeal she faced when her cat became ill, requiring prolonged and extensive medical care and, ultimately, euthanization.
Wente also recounted the high cost of veterinary care, which millions of pet guardians face when their companions become ill. For her, money was not a critical issue, but for most Canadians – especially those on low or fixed incomes – it is.
As Wente points out, in the past veterinary care was limited in scope and complex cases usually resulted in euthanization. But now, with scientific advances, there are many more life-saving treatment options – but they come with a high cost. Coinciding with this development has been a rise in the status of companion animals. They are now considered part of the family.
These are positive changes for companion animals but they also present difficult emotional and financial dilemmas for many people. What do you do when the vet tells you that your cat’s life can be saved but the bill may run into the thousands of dollars? Here at VHS, we are all too familiar with such dilemmas. Almost daily, we receive calls for help from people facing unexpected and often high bills for veterinary care. Our ability to help is limited, as our McVitie Fund for sick and injured animals becomes quickly depleted from high demand. (We’re thankful for the support received for this fund from those that can afford it and who are willing to help animals they will never know.)
There are no easy answers when it comes to weighing the health and well-being of animals against the potentially astronomical costs of vet care. Some have argued that perhaps only those who can afford high vet bills should take on the responsibility of pet guardianship. Yet we know of many low-income people who make remarkable efforts and sacrifices to ensure the health and well-being of their animals. Some of these people are elderly or disabled and their cat or dog means everything to them. Should wealth be the determinant of who gets to enjoy the profound benefits of animal companionship? Most people would find such a restriction unfair and unworkable.
Nevertheless, VHS urges anyone considering adopting (please don’t buy!) an animal to remember that it is a considerable financial responsibility. One option is to buy pet insurance, although it is not cheap. Another option is to put aside a few dollars each month into an account kept specifically for vet bills – that way funds will be available for emergency vet care or an especially high bill.
VHS and other animal groups that help with emergency vet care will always do what we can but, ultimately, anyone giving a home to an animal must take personal responsibility for that animal. Remember, their lives are in your hands.
“She couldn’t bear the thought of Giles being seriously injured.”
Giles is a sweet four-year-old boy whose guardian Shelley took him in after he was born in a barn and faced a lifetime of fighting for everyday existence. He’s been a constant companion and an important part of Shelley’s life ever since.
Giles’ incredibly affectionate and loving nature is important for more reasons than one, as Shelley suffers from severe depression and PTSD. His friendship is motivating – his playful and goofy demeanor can always cheer her up, and his sensitive temperament helps see her through the tough times.
Recently, Giles injured his leg and Shelley noticed him favouring it. The situation was a great source of stress for her. She couldn’t bear the thought of Giles being seriously injured and given her low-income situation, she needed help. That’s when VHS stepped in, thanks to the support of our amazing donors! Giles underwent an x-ray to ensure nothing was broken and received medication to help manage his pain. After some time resting his leg, Giles was thankfully back to his old self – cuddling, chattering and running around the house with lots of energy. His guardian was over the moon to have her friend back and grateful for the support of VHS.
VHS’s McVitie Fund assists low-income pet guardians with emergency veterinary bills. Often, it means the difference between life and death for these animals! Over the years, we’ve helped hundreds of desperate companion animals like Giles to get the help they need to remain in their forever, loving homes. Can you help? Right now, your donation will be matched by a generous anonymous donor!
Thank YOU for your support for this and VHS’s other campaigns to stop animal cruelty!
Tucker is a feisty gray and white cat who found his forever home with Lindsey four years ago. They are best friends and more – Lindsey has been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and this is how she describes Tucker:
“He is the sweetest cat, he loves me so much and sleeps right beside me on my pillow every night. He always greets me at the door when I get home and is always so happy to see me. He’s like my sidekick – when I’m not feeling well he knows and comes and sleeps right on my belly. It’s nice to have the company because lying in bed all day can be super boring especially if I can’t read or watch TV, which happens sometimes when I get optic neuritis and my vision becomes blurry. He’s also really funny and I think laughter is good medicine!”
When Tucker began vomiting, Lindsey was desperate. Because of her MS, she can only work part-time and that leaves her with little money left at the end of the month. She rushed Tucker to the vet, but she only had enough money to pay for the diagnosis – a severe intestinal blockage. It looked like Tucker had eaten the cuff of a sweater and it was now lodged in his intestine. That was when someone recommended she call VHS.
Our McVitie Fund is always stretched to the limit, but we knew we had to help Tucker. The surgery took place that night and the first few days were rough, but Tucker finally began to get better and, thankfully, he pulled through. Lindsey now makes sure that Tucker has lots of safe toys to keep him busy and she keeps her sweaters under lock and key!
While we’re sure Tucker appreciated the help he received during his stay at the vet’s, he’s looking forward to enjoying a safe and peaceful Christmas at home!
If you’d like to help needy animals like Tucker, your donations will be much appreciated! Better yet, if you donate before January 15, 2014, your donation will be doubled by a generous donor. Thank you for caring about animals like Tucker!
Nicholas Read, a long-time VHS supporter, had a problem. Actually, two problems: Leo and Henry, his two very demanding (but adorable) ginger cats.
Both were accustomed to the outdoor life before Nick adopted them (Henry was semi-feral) and they have remained fiercely protective of their right to roam. But, as Nick lives on Vancouver’s west side he was worried about the dangers from urban wildlife.
After a lot of late-night worrying about when the “boys” would get home, Nick hit on the idea of building a pen on his deck, adjacent to his apartment window, that would allow Leo and Henry to jump out and in as they wished throughout the night. While various ready-made cat pens can be found on the Internet, Nick wanted something custom-made to ensure his cats could have safe, easy indoor/outdoor access, with an enclosure that was hard-wearing and aesthetically pleasing.
Fortunately, Nick discovered that one of his friends was a talented woodworker who enjoys challenges. Scott McLean, a college instructor, jumped at the opportunity to design and build a suitable enclosure. For Nick, it couldn’t come too soon.
“Leo and Henry have been going outside for years, so it’s impossible to keep them in all the time, he says. “But I worry about coyotes and birds. I worry about coyotes killing them, and them killing birds. So it seemed a good compromise to ask Scott to build an enclosure. This way they can still go out at night and be safe. And when I’m away and they have to be kept inside, they can still get fresh air.”
Scott describes his approach to the task: “When designing the pen I considered its function, but also how it would fit into Nick’s deck environment. I appreciated that the cats had their needs, but also was mindful of avoiding a situation where it overwhelmed his deck. In Nick’s case a slanted front was used to lessen the vertical space that was taken up by the pen, which added interest and gave it a less obstructive look, all without compromising the function for the cats. The design of Nick’s pen uses a cedar wooden frame with the metal mesh as the filler. I think the use of wood gives the enclosure a polished look and takes the industrial edge off. It also fits in well with the wooden deck, planters and a garden environment.”
Scott also took in a number of practical elements. First, the wood needed to be protected from the weather. Mitred joints were used in the construction so that the end grain of the wood was not exposed and there was less chance that the wood will soak in water and rot prematurely. The bolts and hardware are all weather resistant and caulking is used to prevent water from pooling and rotting out the wood.
Second, the enclosure had to be relatively easy to assemble and disassemble. Only two wrenches are needed to assemble the pen and it is constructed of several panels, each of which is not too heavy or awkward to move by oneself. The construction of the pen in several smaller panels also means that it can be stored without taking up too much space and can be moved to different locations without the need of a large truck.
Nick was thrilled with the result, but would the cats approve? Leo immediately jumped in to investigate and now enjoys his new outdoor rec-room. Henry took some coaxing (actually a gentle push) but has also given the enclosure the paws-up.
Scott enjoyed the project so much, he would welcome the opportunity to help others by making specially-built enclosures available to demanding cats on the Lower Mainland.
“The cat enclosures are fully custom,” he says. “Any shape or size is possible, which is a great advantage since we all have different spaces and needs. If a customer was looking to start small and then add on in the future, this desire could be incorporated into the original design. There are many choices out there in terms of metal mesh and wood. The selection of the materials would be made in consultation with the customer, but also in consideration to the environment in which the enclosure would live. Also, things like sustainably harvested wood can be used if this is important to the customer, as it was in Nick’s case.”
Cost of the enclosures is dependent on the size and the materials selected. Enclosures similar to Nick’s cost approximately $900 plus tax. Scott McLean can be contacted at
Since this article was first drafted, other catio producers have come ‘out of the woodwork’ including Catioasis.