Included in the Wednesday, May 3 print edition is our Women in Business magazine where we highlight South Okanagan women who are making a difference in the community and in the business world. Below is a profile of Kona Sankey, who is featured in the magazine.
What started as a walk down the street to help a ginger boy named Oscar lose weight has grown into a grassroots project aimed at creating a pet-friendly Penticton.
Kona Sankey is the guardian of two senior cats, both of who were in need of some exercise back in 2021. Oscar was pushing over 20 pounds while Pickle was more curious about the outdoors, either way, Sankey felt getting the two out and on leashes was what was needed.
“We would take them to the corner and then walk back to the house. Then we got backpacks because Oscar doesn’t really like cars or wheel noises, and that is when we ventured out further,” she said.
It was this adventure that would have Sankey stopping into Penticton businesses to run errands, which quickly transformed into finding out which stores were pet friendly and which ones needed answers as to why a feline was seen shopping.
“By April, I had started Pet-Friendly Penticton on Facebook and listed locations using Google maps, to help locate which places were pet friendly,” explained Sankey.
“We were getting about 100 followers each month and local charities were joining and starting to use it to post opportunities for volunteers, as well as for foster homes or donation requests.”
By that time Sankey knew she had sparked a fire under Penticton’s pet community, and animal lovers were coming together with all sorts of ideas.
September rolled around and Sankey’s “pet project” was a full-blown reality with a Pets in the Park event hosting more than 14 exhibitors, 200 humans and half a dozen animals at Gyro Park.
“It was such a success we are going to do it again this September 2023,” she said.
Fall rolled over into winter, which called for the demand for a pet holiday market. Sankey once again brought together exhibitors, humans and their pets, including a goat named Bugatti, as well as Santa for holiday photos. The event, held at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre raised money for both the Pet-Friendly Penticton project as well as for the community’s most vulnerable, through Fill the Food Gap Penticton.
Sticking to her guns of community involvement, Sankey initiated a beach clean-up in February to help tidy the Okanagan Lake Park Dog Beach.
“Our pet-friendly areas, such as dog beaches, really need some care and attention.”
“Right now I really think there is an untapped market for pet tourism in Penticton, I meet people all the time who travel with their pets, especially their cats,” she said.
So, balls keep bouncing and the strings keep unravelling as Sankey continues her passion to connect pet amenities and people so animals get the care they deserve while living in the South Okanagan.