Shelter in a storm

Penticton SPCA inundated with abandoned and abused pets

Staff member Nikki Mihalick of the local SPCA branch checks the condition of one of the 21 cats found abandoned at a rental property recently. This feline lost an eye as did some of the others due to a high infection level among them. Five puppies and a rabbit were also rescued under similar circumstances and are now being cared for.

Staff member Nikki Mihalick of the local SPCA branch checks the condition of one of the 21 cats found abandoned at a rental property recently. This feline lost an eye as did some of the others due to a high infection level among them. Five puppies and a rabbit were also rescued under similar circumstances and are now being cared for.

Inundated with sick, injured and orphaned pets, local SPCA officials have issued a plea for the public’s help.

Compounding an already busy year so far at the South Okanagan Similkameen branch was the recent seizure of nearly 30 animals from three abandoned residences.

At one location, five small poodle-cross puppies were discovered badly matted and encrusted in a mix of their own feces and urine.

In another instance, 21 cats were found by a landlord whose tenant had left unexpectedly. While not starving, many of the felines had severe infections resulting in various stages of vision loss and total blindness.

The third case was a rabbit, its fur so badly matted the animal was stuck to the cage and barely able to move.

“How can people do this (abandon pets)? I don’t know, that’s really the million-dollar question,” said branch manager Tracy Westmoreland. “If you find the answer, let me know because this is heartbreaking to see.

“It’s also expensive with the medical bills that we’re having to pay. We’re just really dealing with a lot right now.”

Most years the facility cares for almost 1,200 animals in need, but if the current trend continues 2012 will easily exceed that number.

“We really need the community’s help in supporting these animals,” said the manager. “Cats, dogs, rabbits, you name it we’re swamped, and with these new animals we’ve taken a number of arrivals we hadn’t planned on.”

The regulars include strays and surrenders from people moving, and situations of compassionate care where pets are taken in when owners are sick or in the hospital.

However, particularly unsettling to the manger is the increase of cases where the pets are left behind.

“I don’t know if there are more tenants moving out and leaving their landlords without paying bills, but certainly there seems to be more people skipping out on their animals,” said Westmoreland. “We want people to remember we are here.”

In the matter of the found puppies, which after having their fur shaved off are little more than very frightened handfuls of skin and bone, rehabilitation will be a slow process.

“Some of them actually have scorch marks on their feet from the urine burns and they’re all incredibly fearful. They haven’t been socialized or looked after and are quite fragile,” she said.

As in the case with the cats, attempts are being made to track down the person(s) responsible with the potential for criminal charges possible.

While it’s still too early to tell, it is hoped all the animals will survive, although the manager admits determining the quality of life — especially in the case of some of the cats — may require some tough decisions in the future.

They remain in the feline isolation unit to prevent the spread of infection to the many other cats in residence at the shelter.

As well as the additional strain on the SPCA’s financial resources, they receive no government support, the increased workload on the limited staff and support workers is substantial.

“We really do need as much help as possible to care for these stray and unwanted animals,” said Westmoreland. “We’re desperately looking for more volunteers, especially in the morning with the cats.”

She agreed working with the animals can take an emotional toll but added: “It’s also very rewarding. It’s a balance, the good and the bad, but you have to remind yourself you’re not responsible for them being homeless but you can do your best to give them a good quality of life until they get re-homed.

“We have so many wonderful animals who desperately want to be part of a family.”

To view animals for adoption, visit or go to the Penticton shelter from noon to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

To make a donation to help the animals, please visit, call 250-493-0136 or mail to the B.C. SPCA South Okanagan/Similkameen Branch, 2200 Dartmouth Drive, Penticton, B.C. V2A, 7W7.


Just Posted

Wade Cudmore, seen here with his mother Kathy Richardson, had his first court appearance in relation to first degree murder charges in the deaths of Erick and Carlo Fryer Tuesday, June 22, 2021. (Kathy Richardson/Facebook)
Man charged in Naramata double homicide appears in Penticton court

Wade Cudmore appeared for the first time in relation to first degree murder charges

(John Arendt - Black Press)
Penticton wants to give you money to make something fun happen in the city

City launches community grant program to help post-COVID recovery

Penticton mayor John Vassilaki and Minister of Housing David Eby have been battling over the Victory Church shelter and BC Housing projects in the city. (File photos)
Penticton heads to court over homeless shelter as BC Housing audit begins

The city was not satisfied with the response from Minister David Eby regarding the ongoing situation

With high temperatures forecasted for the week and into the next, Interior Health is offering some tips on how to keep yourself safe from heat-related illness. (Pixabay)
Interior Health offers safety tips as temperatures soar

‘Too much heat can be harmful to your health’

The proposed design of the five-storey building on Front Street. (City of Penticton)
5-storeys still too tall for Penticton’s downtown, votes city council

Vote against new development leaves one councillor questioning validity of city’s zoning restrictions

A person stands in a tower on the perimeter of the Number 3 Detention Center in Dabancheng in western China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on April 23, 2021. Human rights groups and Western nations led by the United States, Britain and Germany accused China of massive crimes against the Uyghur minority and demanded unimpeded access for U.N. experts at a virtual meeting on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 denounced by China as “politically motivated” and based on “lies.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Mark Schiefelbein
VIDEO: Trudeau demands truth from China about Uyghurs

PM says Canada has admitted broken Indigenous relationship, unlike China on Uyghurs

Council members and witnesses from the Hupacasath First Nation, left, and Tseshaht First Nation, right, prepare to raise their respective flags in front of Port Alberni City Hall on Monday, June 21, 2021. The flags will permanently fly as part of the city’s reconciliation work. See more coverage from the flag raising ceremony on page A5. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Vancouver Island First Nations flags to fly permanently at city hall

Addition of flags are one Port Alberni response to reconciliation

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, middle right, participates in a ribbon-cutting ceremony in honour of the launch of Kelowna’s plasma donor centre at Orchard Plaza Mall on June 22. From left to right: Canadian Blood Services’ business development manager Janna Pantella, Canadian Blood Services’ operational excellence manager Tyler Burke, Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran and Canadian Blood Services’ centre manager Janine Johns. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
B.C.’s first dedicated plasma donor centre opens in Kelowna

The Kelowna location is the third dedicated plasma donor to open in Canada

Susan Kootnekoff is the founder of Inspire Law, an Okanagan based-law practice, and provides Kelowna Capital News with weekly stories from the world of local, national and international law. (Contributed)
Kootnekoff: Access to justice and residential schools in Canada

Susan Kootnekoff is the founder of Inspire Law, her diverse legal career spans over 20 years

Children walk with their parents to Sherwood Park Elementary in North Vancouver for the first day back to school on Sept. 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Study reassures parents, teachers that COVID-19 infrequently shared at school

Federally funded study in Vancouver finds risk in the classroom and in the community identical

Conservative MP Kevin Waugh rises during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday April 13, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Single-game sports betting about to become legal in Canada

Senate passes bill to take sports gambling away from overseas agencies

Point Roberts is part of the mainland United States but not physically connected to it, to reach the community by land one must pass through Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Closed Canadian border leaves Point Roberts’ only grocery store on verge of closure

‘We’re Americans but we’re not attached to America. It’s easy to forget we’re here,’ says owner Ali Hayton

Mayla Janzen and Ashley Hoppichler, with her daughters Lily and Sophia, are bringing a Friday evening market to Polson Park, starting July 2. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Entrepreneurs craft up Vernon night market

Friday evening Polson Park event to take place throughout the summer

Splatsin Chief Wayne Christian and Tina William lead the Every Child Matters March in Enderby Monday, June 21. (Lyndsey Leon photo)
Hundreds march with Splatsin in Enderby for #215

300 orange-shirt wearing people of all backgrounds turned out in support

Most Read