One of the Kitimat animal shelter's more permanent residents

A brief guide to the Kitimat Community Humane Society

A peek into how the Kitimat animal shelter is run and how it's supported.

Kitimat’s Humane Society, a non-profit organization, does a bit more than their mandate with the District of Kitimat.

The Sentinel sought out an overview of how the Kitimat animal shelter operates, after receiving occasional phone calls from people who were frustrated by their experiences either in attempting to adopt an animal or with trying to get animal control out in the community.

The contract:

The Kitimat Community Humane Society is the service provider of the District of Kitimat’s animal control contract. That contract provides the Society’s only firm source of revenue.

The current contract is due for renegotiation and the new one could be adopted by the end of the year.

Under their agreement with the town, they receive $6,115 a month, plus $2.25 for each dog licence sold which is given as a grant-in-aid towards a spay and neuter program. The Society also receives $6.20 for each day a dog is impounded, up to three days or more if directed by the District of Kitimat.

Shelter manager Maryann Ouellet said that dog licences give them about $1,200 a year. The contract with the District essentially only covers animal impoundments, for example dangerous dogs or nuisance animals, as well as provides for patrols through the community. The patrols, as per the terms of the contract, should take up 30 hours a week.  Ouellet is hopeful that they may see a boost to their contract in the future. She said over eight years the contract has only gone up $100 per year.

The change to minimum wage in B.C. in particular has been challenging for the Society.

“It really affected us financially when the minimum wage went up,” she said. “These guys deserve to be paid more than the minimum wage.”

Ouellet is the only full-time staff member at the shelter, but she has two part-time employees as well.

“We try to fundraise, a lot of us are donating or volunteering our time on top of it all,” she added.

The society does also offer, through the contract, after-hours availability if they need to handle an animal call.

While the contract has provisions for cats, for example the number a person may have in their home at once, the animal control regulation for the town is slanted heavily towards regulation of dogs, and are the only pet which need a licence.

The adoption process:

Ouellet is by the books when it comes to adopting out any of their animals.

“It’s quite extensive, asking for references, [and] we like to try to do home inspections,” she said.

She said any of the shelter employees can do home inspections but on occasion they might not feel comfortable in that task and it falls to her to carry them out. But potential adopters need to have a lot of ducks in a row before their application will go anywhere.

“Before an application will even be looked at we require all the documentation requested in the application,” she said.

Documentation needed may include written permission from a person’s landlord that pets are allowed in their home.

She said a verbal promise won’t cut it because there’s always the potential people are wrong on their permission and the animal ends up back at the shelter or somewhere else.

“We still need verification from the landlord so we can talk to him,” she said. “We want to know they’re forever homes…and people can afford them.”

She said people on fixed incomes have come in with detailed finance plans on how they will care for their animal. The home inspections themselves usually will be carried out, unless the person seeking an adoption has done so before through the shelter and so are known to employees.

“If we have someone that’s not already in our system, we will do home inspections.”

The adoption rate, she said, is high, and rescue societies in other parts of the province also monitor the animals they have.

In September this year she said 12 dogs were adopted.

The shelter is also boarding some animals, mostly with the pets of camp workers. But people in town at the camp are also responsible for a number of donations.

She said people will come to walk animals, and end up adopting an animal themselves.

Adoptions cost $250, which covers the expense of spaying or neutering, and vaccinations and deworming.

“We’re still losing a little bit but at least we can make sure this is all happening, so it’s a one-time cost,” said Ouellet. “If people had to go out and spay or neuter their animal themselves they’d be spending a heck of a lot more.”

Agreements on reserves:

Through the society’s own agreements, they will take animals from reserve communities in the area, but that service comes with its own caveats.

“With the reserves, there used to be always a clean up….nothing was done for a long-term solution,” she said.

“It’s taken me a long time to get them on board with it that it’s not a matter of cleaning up your problem in your community, it’s you have to show me what you’re going to do to make changes to address the situation.”

So communities which show they have active animal control and welfare regulations can have their animals picked up.

She said Kitamaat Village has adopted the District of Kitimat’s animal regulations. Other communities have agreements with the shelter, including Canyon City, New Aiyansh, Greenvile and Gingolx.

The society will collect fines on behalf of the communities, and boarding costs and license fees go to the society.

The society itself, and Christmas:

The Kitimat Community Humane Society’s foundation is a board of five directors which Ouellet answers to.

“They basically oversee the operations of this shelter, helping fundraising, setting policies and procedures, and helping me basically.”

They’re a non-profit society, which helps them potentially get government funding and grants.

Their non-profit status helps them connect with animal rescues as well, she adds.

And with the Christmas season nearly upon us, we had to also ask where the shelter stands on gift adoptions.

“If somebody wants a pet in the house we want to know that the whole family is on board with it. And if you’re going to get it for your child, well it’s not going to be approved,” she said.

That’s because she says sometimes families will adopt an animal for a kid, but then the child may lose interest in caring for the animal over time.

“A lot of parents think they’re teaching their kids responsibility, then the animal gets neglected and the parents don’t want the animal,” she said.

So in short, the whole regular process takes place before an adoption happens, whether it’s for a gift or not.