The Lake Cowichan Animal Rescue Society has closed its doors after servicing the area for more than 13 years.
Kilby Cottingham, a director with the LCARS, said the animal rescue organization shut down on Jan. 13, largely due to fundraising complications related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our fundraising, based mostly on contact with the public, was made impossible by the restrictions of COVID-19,” she said.
“Our usual corporate and private donors also felt the sting of the pandemic with donations dwindling to nothing as people experienced their own forms of hardship. So, we simply could not keep going. But the good news is that our local feral colonies are healthy and under control, and we currently have only two cats in our system that are awaiting paid surgeries and with homes to go to afterwards, so things have ended on quite a good note.”
Cottingham said the LCARS often had dozens of cats being cared for in the system at any given time, and its grand total over its 13 years of operation was about 2,400 cats, domestic and feral, which the society has helped with vet care, spaying or neutering, returning them to colonies, or adopting them out to good homes.
She said that one result is that feral colonies in the Lake Cowichan region have been drastically reduced, or naturally eliminated, without inhumane culling.
“The need now for an organization such as ours is significantly less than it was years ago, but our animal population will still need support, so Cowichan Cat Rescue, a long-established Cowichan Valley charity, will be stepping up to help with the care of cats in need from now on,” Cottingham said.
“They will operate with a network of our volunteers and theirs, with programs designed to reduce suffering in our animal population.”
Cottingham thanked all the businesses that supported the LCARS over the years, and others who donated and helped the society in many ways.
“And, finally, we give endless thanks to our volunteers, colony managers, and foster homes for being so brave, kind, and selfless through thick and thin,” she said.
“You have helped so many animals.”
Jean Hamilton, Cowichan Cat Rescue’s managing trustee, acknowledged that the CCR’s many programs, including its foster and adoption programs for kittens, and its low-cost spay/neuter program, will take over from the LCARS.
“Of necessity, due to COVID-19 restrictions mostly, we will be doing a gradual start, but while we are getting a look at the situation in the community, we are hoping to hear from the wonderful people who have been working with LCARS in recent years,” Hamilton said.
“We will need trappers and foster homes and fundraisers and transporters in the area. The CCR is very grateful for all that LCARS did over the years. We hope to be able to have a smooth transition to provide for the feline population of Lake Cowichan, Youbou, Honeymoon Bay and area.”
Hamilton said the CCR wants to hear from anyone who would like to know more about its programs and what can be done to help.
Contact information is on the CCR’s Facebook page and on its website at www.cowichancatrescue.org.