SUNDAY, APRIL 22
Dr. Sara Dubois, Chief Scientific Officer, British Columbia SPCA (BC SPCA)
Nicole Fenwick, Manager, Research and Standards, British Columbia SPCA (BC SPCA)
Erin Ryan, Research Coordinator, British Columbia SPCA (BC SPCA)
As urban development densifies and further encroaches into wild spaces, conflicts between people and wildlife (squirrels, raccoons, rodents, birds) increases. This affects homeowners, municipalities and any operator of a building, including animal welfare organizations. Typically, a "pest" control company is called, but in this mostly unregulated industry without clear standards or Codes of Practice, it is difficult to know what this means for the "pest" animal. So who can people who care about animals turn to for help with these conflicts?
In 2015, the BC SPCA presented on the need for humane wildlife standards because the public asks us for help in solving their wildlife and rodent issues, and we face these conflicts in our shelters and clinics. The ongoing challenge is balancing harms to wildlife with the need to protect the health and safety of the people and pets that occupy our buildings. To find solutions for ourselves and our supporters we developed AnimalKind, a new animal welfare accreditation program for wildlife and rodent ("pest") control.
- AnimalKind accredits companies and organizations that provide or use "pest" control services.
- Accredited companies follow AnimalKind’s science-based standards developed with the expert advice of the UBC Animal Welfare Program and PAACO animal auditors. This novel program was developed with grant funding and in consultation with the pest control industry.
- Growth of AnimalKind will include accreditation of "pest" control companies in other provinces and extension of the accreditation model to other animal-related service industries, such as dog training and animal boarding facilities.
Dr. Sara Dubois is the BC SPCA’s Chief Scientific Officer, where she directs province-wide welfare science operations, education and advocacy projects. She works on: wildlife rehabilitation, oil spill response, captive wildlife and exotic pets, human-wildlife conflicts and compassionate conservation, and consults on wildlife cruelty investigations. Sara is a registered professional biologist with a BSc IN Biology (UVic) and an MSc and PhD from the UBC Animal Welfare Program, whose main area of expertise is in wildlife welfare and human dimensions. She is an Adjunct Professor with the UBC Applied Biology Program and Advisor to the Whale Sanctuary Project.
Nicole Fenwick is responsible for the AnimalKind animal welfare accreditation program in her role as BC SPCA Manager, Research & Standards. An MSc graduate of the UBC Animal Welfare Program, Nicole has previously worked on a variety of animal welfare projects in Canada including: policy research and development to further the Three Rs in Canadian animal-based science, rodent glue trapping and beef cattle welfare.
Erin Ryan is the BC SPCA Research Coordinator, supporting the Society's work for wildlife, animals in science and exotic animals through scientific research and by acting as a liaison for communications, fundraising and digital marketing. She has previous wildlife experience through the BC SPCA as a volunteer, coordinating the Society’s wildlife photo database and Wildlife-In-Focus photo contest. Erin holds a BSc in Applied Animal Biology from the University of British Columbia (UBC) and previously worked in communications consulting for a private company.
SUNDAY, APRIL 22
Dr. Toolika Rastogi PhD, Policy and Research Manager, Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS)
In 2012, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) published a groundbreaking national study about the cat overpopulation crisis faced by Canadians and their most popular companion animals. Cats in Canada: A Comprehensive Report on the Cat Overpopulation Crisis presented data and opinions collected from Canadian cat stakeholders, including humane societies, SPCAs, municipalities, veterinarians, rescue organizations, trap-neuter-return groups and spay/neuter organizations. It was the first report of its kind, elaborating on the negative consequences of cat overpopulation, including homelessness, overburdened animal shelters and euthanasia.
In late 2017, CFHS released a follow-on study, looking at changes that have transpired for cats after five years of dedicated focus to this issue. Results from the same stakeholder groups are presented, along with findings of a general population survey of Canadians regarding cat ownership, to reveal the current situation of cats in Canada.
The results tell a "good news, bad news" story. The good news is cat euthanasia rates have declined, cat adoption has risen, sterilization rates appear to be improving and there have been increases in the use and perceived success of TNR and accessible spay/neuter programs. The bad news, however, is that twice as many cats are being admitted to shelters as dogs, the fraction of those who are juvenile is twice as high as for dogs, and there continues to be more cats in shelters than homes available to take them in.
The persistence of cat overpopulation calls for strengthened communication across stakeholder groups and the development of an integrated response to address cat overpopulation. We welcome the opportunity afforded by the conference to engage in discussions about the next steps towards making progress nationally on this issue.
- How cat overpopulation issues have evolved over the last five years in Canada.
- How the 2017 cat overpopulation study was conducted.
- Discussion on how to move forward to end cat overpopulation in Canada.
Policy and Research Manager at the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, Dr. Toolika Rastogi leads a number of animal welfare research projects, including the CFHS annual collection of shelter statistics. She currently represents CFHS on the Canadian Council on Animal Care and is a member of the Steering Committee and Science and Technical Advisory Committee for Nature Canada's Keep Cats Safe and Save Bird Lives initiative. Until very recently, she also represented CFHS on the National Farm Animal Care Council. Toolika holds a PhD in Molecular and Medical Genetics, a postdoctoral certificate in conservation genetics and a Master’s degree in Ecological Economics and Sustainable Development Policy.