Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


Long-promised new space for rabbits at the Surrey SPCA still not realized

From the Watchdog Messageboard:
By: Carmina Gooch
Date: Tuesday, 29 August 2006

The BC SPCA has spoken for a number of years on the need to build a new facility in Surrey, yet it's still being discussed, which makes me wonder just how much longer it will be until we will see any action. When the City of Surrey extended the SPCA Contract in December of 2005 it allowed for the possibility of a partnership in developing an "animal care facility that would serve a number of municipalities south of the Fraser River." Options are going to be further explored over the next two to three years. So, more waiting.

In early 2001 renovations to the cat room were completed and the little room there was for rabbits and small critters was all but eliminated. Promises to build pens alongside the building fell through, and, instead a couple of hutches were put out back, away from public view, and several portable cages were put in an isolation area. There were inquiries to the then branch manager by staff, volunteers, and the public alike, as to why, when so many of these "pets" were being surrendered was there not more space provided. A staff member told me that the manager said that most small animals were put down so there was no need.

In June of this year I was informed by the manager that hopefully a "hutch type structure" was going to be built in the not so "distant future."

If even minor improvements to benefit the animals cannot be made in a timely manner it's no wonder the bigger undertakings aren't being realized.

Comment:  The "hutch type structure" was never built and there have been no structural improvements, despite more promises.  In the Fall and Winter of 2007 all the rabbits and small critters were temporarily moved into the main building of the SPCA, making the tiny room more overcrowded than ever.  In the early summer of 2008 the old wheelchair access ramp to the ALC was going to be revamped and bunny runs were supposed to be built.  It's November, and the improvements haven't started, despite Home Depot's willingness to do the work.  The "Bunny Barn" door hasn't been properly secured and repeated begging by volunteers to get a proper heating system installed has just recently met with success.  Volunteers are doing their best for the bunnies, but with Head Office holding the power and purse strings, well, it's one excuse after another.  Meanwhile the rabbit rescue and advocacy groups are busy raising funds for sterilization, vet care, and taking calls about abandoned bunnies.  All this and more, making rabbits a priority, something one would think the SPCA would do.

A couple of many letters regarding this issue.

June 16, 2006 

Rabbits at the Surrey SPCA 

Hello Bob, 

I continue to have concerns regarding the rabbits at the Surrey SPCA.  There is minimal space allocated for the rabbits in the cat room of the main building and because they do not adopt quickly, if at all, they are typically not spayed or neutered.  They are being sold for $20.00, with the onus then put on the "adopter" to have the bunny sterilized. Staff and volunteers have told me this, and because of my direct involvement/ volunteering and networking with animal welfare groups, I know this to be a fact as well.  

Additionally, care information pamphlets aren’t offered and to date a rabbit adoption counselor hasn’t been on hand.  Earlier this spring a family was considering two rabbits for their two children, and the kennel cards stated both were females.  When I turned each bunny over, one was an intact male!  One of the cat volunteers commented that it looked like a “growth, or something."  I then proceeded to discuss how to sex rabbits, and provided the prospective adopters with rabbit information, and my phone number. 

Why is it that the SPCA isn't doing this?  What if the family had adopted the rabbits and put them together, as was the intentional plan?   

Surrey has always been, and continues to be a high volume branch, and due to the restructuring of the Animal Learning Centre, rabbits are rarely brought up from the admitting building anymore to be put up for potential adoption.  In fact, the rabbits currently there have been sitting for months on end.  In prior years, and when I was helping on a casual basis in 2000-2001 the "Bottles for Bunnies" program was very successful in that rabbits were routinely sterilized and adopted out. Many rodents were also placed.  

In 2004 the restructuring changes demanded staff to spend more time in schools and communities doing education.  Subsequently, hours were cut as were the number of animals being permitted in the centre.  Offers and proposals from rescue groups and individuals to keep the centre open and running were rejected. Now, too, the bottles program has been totally discontinued, other than to include specified drives.  The implication is that the SPCAs bottom line is that monies spent on altering rabbits is a poor investment because of the low placement rate.      

It is a fact that rabbits everywhere are difficult to find good homes for, whether it be in private rescue, other shelters, or at other SPCA branches, such as Vancouver and Richmond.  There is little demand for adult rabbits as "pets" but as the leading animal welfare agency in BC, the SPCA ought to make certain that the "multiplying champion" isn't reproducing because he/ she had been "adopted" intact.  

Surrey routinely takes owner surrenders, and due to space reasons, rabbits are under  steady threat of being put down for the simple reason that when new ones are admitted, they have to be put somewhere.  I currently have two rabbits from a group who were destined to be killed last year, both on separate occasions.    

The proliferation of unwanted rabbits is an ever- increasing problem so would like to know what action plans, either short or long term, that the BC SPCA has in mind to address this issue.  They do matter, and deserve the same attentions as do dogs and cats.  Have there been any further discussions or headway with Mr. Urbani, President of Petcetera, with respect to ending the sales of rabbits?  

Perhaps it would be best for the domestic rabbit if we move in the direction of not keeping them at all. 

I look forward to a response at your earliest convenience.

Carmina Gooch, Director
Pets In Need Society
Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC   

Note: Bob Busch is the Operations Manager for the BC SPCA.  

March 14, 2006

SPCA Animal Learning Centre 

Mr. Sherstone,

As you recommended that the City of Surrey extend the contract with the SPCA for an additional two years I would like to make you aware of the following situation. The BC SPCA indicated that the Animal Learning Centre is key to increased growth in their Summer Camp Program I have to ask why the hours have been substantially reduced.

I must also mention that the lack of space allotted to rabbits in this branch and other Lower Mainland shelters, plus the relatively small demand for adult rabbits as pets continues to put them at risk of euthanasia unless those in the rescue network are able to intervene.   

Your response is appreciated. 

Thank you,
Carmina Gooch
North Vancouver 

Note: Mr. Sherstone is the Manager, Bylaw & Licensing Services for the City of Surrey.

BC SPCA Press Release

City of Surrey Renews Contract with BC SPCA

December 15, 2005. For immediate release.  The City of Surrey has voted in favour of renewing its animal control contract with the BC Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The contract, which will be in effect through December 31, 2007, was approved at the Dec. 12th meeting of council. A city report noted that continuing the animal control contract with the SPCA "will not only renew the strong links that exist between the two organizations, but more importantly, will ensure the delivery of quality animal services for both the animals and the residents of Surrey."

Craig Daniell, CEO of the BC SPCA, said the renewal of the contract is a positive and essential step in the SPCA's strategic plan to expand services and programs in Surrey and surrounding communities. "We have a very good working relationship with the city now and we believe that we can achieve much more for the animals by building on this partnership as we move forward."

In its report to council, city staff identified the need for a new animal shelter in Surrey within the next few years and recommended that the city explore a partnership with the BC SPCA to develop an animal care facility that would serve a number of municipalities south of the Fraser River. In recommending a continuing relationship with the BC SPCA, the report noted several significant developments during the past year, including an expansion of SPCA youth programs at the Surrey shelter, increased licensing and by-law enforcement, the introduction of the SPCA's Pet Express program to transfer animals out of Surrey to other shelters to avoid overcrowding and the SPCA's new state-of-the-art computer database, Shelter Buddy, which provides comprehensive record keeping and enables the SPCA to easily generate reports of a wide range of animal welfare concerns.

The BC SPCA cares for more than 53,000 abused, homeless and injured animals each year and carries out more than 8,200 animal cruelty investigations. Surrey is one of the busiest of the Society's 26 shelters across BC.

Planning Report Date:  May 26, 2008 


3. Proposed BCSPCA Lease
Colebrook Road
File No. 7908-0076-00

Jennifer McLean, Planner, was in attendance to review her memo of April 18, 2008 regarding the above subject line and to receive comments from the AAC that will be provided to the ALC.  Comments were as follows:

The City owned land contains a net area of approximately 49 acres and is currently zoned A-1.  The land borders Highway 15 and is separated from other commercial property in the area by a CP railway line. The land contains two distinct features.  Approximately 40 acres is low lying and currently under agricultural use, while the remaining nine acres is higher and is largely vacant.  It is these nine acres that are the subject site for a new BCSPCA. The lease will be for 60 years, to facilitate the development of a replacement SPCA animal shelter to service the City of Surrey. It was noted that the drawings provided were different from what was shown at the meeting.  This was because the 30m riparian setback had not been addressed in the original drawings.

The current shelter at 6706 – 152 Street, owned by the City, has reached a stage whereby a new shelter needs to be built. The SPCA Long Range Strategic Plan identifies Surrey as the location for a new animal centre which is supported by the Board of Directors for the BCSPCA. The future animal centre includes a livestock barn and paddocks for impounded or seized animals, emergency/disaster rescue area and a park space with an interpretative forest.

The 30m setback of the building will accommodate any future widening of Colebrook Road. The building size will be approximately 19,500 sq. ft. A riparian buffer should not be required for the horses and horse paddocks.  This is farm use, it is permitted under the zoning, it meets all the criteria, there is no reason to apply the required fisheries setback as long as there is no change to the use.

It was Moved by Councillor Hunt  Seconded by B. Aulakh That Staff be advised that the AAC does not see any problem with a long term lease being provided for this property as long as the rest of the property is used for agricultural purposes.   Carried.

BC SPCA loses Surrey contract

March 15, 2012 CBC News

The BC SPCA is laying off eight to nine employees after the City of Surrey awarded its kennelling contract to Commissionaires B.C. SPCA spokeswoman Lori Chortyk says that means the organization will no longer house strays taken off the streets.

Losing the Surrey contract is not a huge financial loss for the organization, says Chortyk because they have been breaking even providing the service and the focus of their operations is cruelty investigations and animal adoption.

"We would have been happy to continue our partnership with the City of Surrey, but we don't see ourselves leaving the community or not partnering with the city in other ways," said Chortyk. She says it has acquired a new facility and plans to open an animal adoption and education center in Surrey this spring. "Obviously the more services there can be for animals the better for us," she said.

Commissionaires BC already has an animal control contract with the city of Abbotsford. The BC organization is a branch of the larger national Commissionaires agency, a privately run not-for-profit security firm that provides employment to former military and police personnel, according to its website. It was founded in 1925 and is one of the Canada's largest security firms with more than 20,000 commissionaires providing security for government and private institutions.

August 2012 update: The new Surrey SPCA Education and Adoption Centre has not yet opened. The Commissionaires are working out of the old Surrey facility but will be moving by the end of the year. (hopefully!) The DNV animal shelter manager, Kim Marosevich, has taken a position as animal control manager at the Surrey Animal Resource Centre. Rabbit Advocacy is helping by taking hard to place rabbits. We recently adopted Monty, renamed Skylar, into our sanctuary. She had some behavioural issues but is making progress and has a new friend, Roker.(R)

Read more: SPCA Surrey Education & Adoption Centre Opens Doors 

The Surrey Animal Resource Centre is the municipal animal control facility and adoption centre for the City of Surrey.

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