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Penticton shelter providing a new leash on life

South Okanagan Similkameen SPCA manager Jamie Armer visits with one of the very new arrivals at the  local branch recently. The shelter has its annual open house Saturday from 1-4 p.m. at 2200 Dartmouth Dr. in Penticton.  - Mark Brett/Western News
South Okanagan Similkameen SPCA manager Jamie Armer visits with one of the very new arrivals at the local branch recently. The shelter has its annual open house Saturday from 1-4 p.m. at 2200 Dartmouth Dr. in Penticton.
— image credit: Mark Brett/Western News

Taking the good with the bad has been the most important lesson Jamie Armer has learned since signing on with the SPCA.

“I admit it can be challenging, and people often ask me, ‘How can you do it, you must see so many horror stories and so much negativity,’ but it’s offset because everyday you see something that blows your mind,” said Armer, 36, who took over the reins of the South Okanagan Similkameen branch eight months ago.

“You see how selfless people can be, somebody donating a huge amount of money when they haven’t got it to give but they feel so strongly about it.

“I’m looking through my office door and I’m seeing animals going to their new homes, so you see the positive and the good as well as the bad.”

He added there are still people who believe the SPCA is a “dark, gloomy place,” where animals are euthanized after a brief stay.

“What we want to do is start educating people and dispelling those rumours and unfounded myths,” said Armer, who took over from Tracy Westmoreland. “To let them come and see what it is all about and ask as many questions as they want and get honest answers, because that’s what we’re here for.”

People will have that opportunity Saturday when the SPCA holds its annual open house from 1-4 p.m.

Prior to coming to Penticton, the manager worked in Kelowna after he and his wife moved to B.C. from the United Kingdom in 2011.

In comparison to Kelowna, Armer has found this area has a much different feel.

“In Kelowna there’s more money per capita, but here people seem to have a very strong commitment and take it very seriously,” said the manager. “We have a community shelter, because the community built it with their fundraising efforts and that’s why I know it is a strong community.”

Although the SPCA is very well known for its work with animals, Armer pointed out it can also be a doubled-edged sword.

“The sharp edge is that because we are so big and so established, (people think) that we don’t need the help, but we still really depend on the kids with their lemonade stalls and the schools that raise money through their bake sales,” he said.

Although it is still some time away, Armer would like his legacy to be about education, in particular about the feline populations.

In spite of the constant reminders about the importance of spaying and neutering cats, each year rescue facilities everywhere are overwhelmed.

“These cats and kittens come to us from boxes under cars, left by the side of the road or outside of the doors of the shelter overnight,” said Armer.

“So if I can do anything to make a reduction in that then I will feel that I have done something.”

To that end, he feels it is particularly important to educate young people, especially children, who will be the pet guardians of the future. To do that the manager is continuing to promote SPCA kids camps throughout the year to provide that information.

 

“Just helping them understand what being responsible for a pet is all about,” Armer.

 

 

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