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Bam Bam’s story is one that animal lovers know too well


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?

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The dilemmas of modern vet care

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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.



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When a call to VHS is a needy animal’s last hope


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“My cat accidentally slipped out the front door and was hit by a car. I’m on disability right now and don’t have enough money to cover the entire vet bill. Please, is there any way you can help me?”

This is the kind of desperate call the Vancouver Humane Society gets several times a week. As VHS’s Program Coordinator & Office Manager, I’m typically the staff member handling the calls when distraught individuals contact us in need of help because their dog, cat or other companion animal is in dire need of emergency vet care. These are low-income folks – often they are on disability, or were recently laid off and are struggling to make ends meet while searching for work, or they are pensioners on a limited income. Whatever their circumstances may be, they all have the same thing in common – they are loving and committed caregivers who simply need a bit of help during a tough time.

Unfortunately, there are always more needy animals than there are available funds and very few programs similar to VHS’s “McVitie Fund For Animals” exist. Often, those without enough funds to cover the vet bill are forced to choose between giving up their beloved companion or euthanasia. This is why the McVitie fund exists – to offer an alternative and keep already cherished animals in their forever home, instead of being surrendered to shelters or unnecessarily euthanized.

Being able to say “yes, we can help” when I receive those desperate calls and hearing the relief in the caller’s voice reminds me of the importance of such a program. Because no one should have to go without their own pain medication in order to make sure their companion animal gets the care they need, or be disadvantaged in receiving help because of a disability, or be unfairly judged due to an unexpected financial hardship when in reality they may have been the only hope for an abandoned animal in need.

I believe in the McVitie Fund For Animals whole-heartedly. I believe in the much needed service it provides and in what it represents in a society where we need to do more to help each other. I believe in the important work VHS does to help animals, so much so that I am helping to raising funds as team captain for VHS in the Scotiabank Half-Marathon/5k. On June 28th, we’ll be running for the animals in what is VHS’s most important fundraiser of the year.

All of our team members have unique and personal reasons for joining this run. Mine is the McVitie Fund For Animals. So please, consider sponsoring me and help our team achieve our goal. Your support causes a ripple effect of happiness – for me, answering the phone at VHS, because I can say “Yes!” to the caller; then for the distraught caregiver on the other end of the line; third to the needy animal; and lastly, to the veterinarian we use who has offered his or her services to our clients at such a reduced rate.

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Don’t forget sick and injured animals this Christmas


Our new bus shelter ad in Vancouver is a timely reminder that sick and injured animals need your help.

VHS is running the ad until January 5 to seek support for our McVitie Fund for emergency veterinary care.  With your help hundreds of animals will get desperately needed treatment and more will be spayed or neutered.

Donate Now Through!

bus shelter ad





Watch for our ad around town! Thanks to the City of Vancouver for providing ad space and to 24ptHelvetica for design.