City of Vancouver under pressure to make more pet-friendly homes available for low-income renters

cat-698593_1920Many people in the Lower Mainland can relate to struggling to find a place to rent when you have a pet. One group finding this especially difficult is low-income renters in Vancouver. Currently, a lot of subsidized housing does not allow pets. City Council will soon be considering recommendations from the City’s Renters Advisory Committee (just released on the City’s website). These recommendations aim to see more pet friendly units in subsidized housing.

Lawyer Joshua Prowse with Community Legal Assistance Society worked on developing this proposal. A housing lawyer, Prowse sits on the Renters Advisory Committee and provides legal supervision to the TRAC, Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre.

The motion calls on the City of Vancouver to look at why the City and the province are funding housing providers who bar tenants from having any pets, and what changes can be made when the city renews these contracts. “Pets offer wonderful companionship and play a crucial role in many of our lives, but for too many low-income renters, if you have a pet, you can’t find a place to live in Vancouver,” says Alannah Hall, a volunteer and spokesperson for VOKRA, the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association.

Right now, more than 10,000 people in metro Vancouver are on waiting lists for subsidized housing – and many of these units do not allow pets.  Prowse says these pet restrictions affect some of the most vulnerable people in our society, people with few alternative housing options.  He notes other jurisdictions have taken steps to protect low-income renters with pets and it is time for our city to catch up and address this issue.

Prowse says he hears from renters who are asked to make an impossible choice, between having a home and having their pet.  He says upwards of 20% of pet surrenders to the BC SPCA (about 1,500 per year) are related to housing challenges.

The Rewards of Fostering

katrina_2This beautiful girl is Katrina and, thanks to her foster mom Carrie, she has a chance at a better life.

Katrina came to VOKRA as a stray kitty and when she arrived at Carrie’s home she had a bad cold and was very scared. In fact, she spent the first several weeks hissing and didn’t want to get out of her carrier.

“I felt bad for her,” said Carrie. “She was in the bathroom and I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t leave the carrier, especially since it was not comfortable at all and now smelling like pee! I had to eventually physically tip the carrier over so that she would leave it and go into the covered cat bed VOKRA had given me. At this point, I was wondering what I’d gotten myself into!”

Carrie is an experience foster who, to date, has taken care of more than 20 VOKRA kitties. They’ve always been calm, friendly cats so she wasn’t expecting Katrina to be so timid. Because she was so used to cats who let her drape them around her shoulders, having Katrina at times was very frustrating. There were days when she wanted to give up and send her back to VOKRA because she wasn’t acting like a “normal” cat. But Carrie’s patience was finally rewarded and she was left with a feeling of pure happiness when Katrina finally decided to trust her.

When asked what her secret weapon was, Carrie said, “Treats! So many treats. I would sometimes sit with her and try to get her to come out of her little cave that I had created for her in a box. She wouldn’t come out for the longest time. Eventually, she FINALLY came out, after tapping my fingers on the floor for God knows how long.”

katrina_1Today Katrina walks around the house like she owns it, running around all the time after treats and rolling over on her back when she wants you to pet her. There are still set backs – sometimes she nips a bit when being pet, she’s a bit skitterish and she hates being picked up – but she’s come a very long way.

“I’ve gotta say it was a challenge and at many times I thought of her as this troll in the bathroom,” said Carrie. “I would feed her and change the litter every day but not get to see or touch her. It’s such a relief now that she’s out and about, for my sanity and for hers! I hope she’ll find a really nice forever home where she can continue to thrive.”

Thank you Carrie for your patience and willingness to stick in there with Katrina! Thanks to you she’s now on the road finding her forever home where she’ll be safe, secure and loved. Although Katrina’s not quite ready for adoption yet, with Carrie’s continued care we anticipate she’ll be up on our website soon!

VORKA is always in need of fosters willing to work slowly with the scared cats in our care. Because we rescue so many kitties from the streets, we have many who need extra help and patience. So if you’re looking for a rewarding and satisfying way to give back, please consider fostering today. Learn more are www.vokra.ca/fostering.

Volunteer of the Month – November 2016

lizAfter a terribly rainy October, it’s finally a new month which means it’s also time to congratulate a new Volunteer of the Month – Liz Menning!

Liz first heard about VOKRA through the West Vancouver SPCA, then applied to be a foster in 2012. The current count for cared kitties in Liz’s home is 57! As much as Liz and her family enjoy fostering, it’s no longer feasible with four cats in their household – three of which are foster fails! Liz’s three kids are happily a part of VOKRA and even set up lemonade stands to raise hundreds of dollars to save the kitties. In the four years Liz has been volunteering with VOKRA, she’s taken on many tasks, including caring for kittens, creating the online foster handbook, helping out at adoption events and much more. Liz’s goal is to make sure all the kitties out there are brought in, cared for and, ultimately, loved.

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The three former fosters Liz adopted.

“My first official rescue was in April 2013,” says Liz. “There was a small tortie, Emma, in Horseshoe Bay living in the shed behind a fish and chips place. She was extremely thin when we brought her in, still wearing a ratty flea-collar and missing most of the fur on her lower half. She spent seven months in a foster home where she learned to be pampered; her coat grew in long and thick, so much so that she needed to be brushed daily. Emma was adopted in October 2013 into her forever home.”

As a volunteer, Liz has found a rewarding hobby in trapping and bringing in kitties to VOKRA. It doesn’t matter how feral or how busy the Ops Centre is, because VOKRA treats every incoming kitty with love and kindness. Liz calls it a “Kitty’s Lucky Day” to come to VOKRA. Some of Liz’s most memorable events with VOKRA include her first mass intake of 23 most sick kittens from Abbotsford and Walk for the Kitties.

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Liz busily helping to get out Operations Centre up and running.

She’s deeply inspired by Karen and Maria at VOKRA and their commitment to kitties – each and every one of them. Liz loves working alongside phenomenal volunteers and felt extremely proud seeing the large number of people who attended the VOKRA Volunteer BBQ this past summer.

We here at VOKRA feel the same way about Liz. She’s an extraordinary volunteer and has gone through great lengths to provide the best care possible for all the rescued kitties. Thank you Liz! We appreciate all your hard work and effort to help our organization be successful and, most importantly, to improve the lives of all kitties. Stay awesome!

Post written by Aurora C.

As a 100% volunteer-driven non-profit, we clearly couldn’t do what we do without our extremely dedicated and hard working team of volunteers. THANK YOU!

If you’re interested in volunteering with us visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer.

Wanted: Adoption Counsellors

momoWho wants to help our kitties find their forever homes?!

We’re looking to grow our team of adoption counsellors and are looking for cat lovers like you. Our adoption counsellors review new adoption applications, interview applicants and, ultimately, match up kitties with adopters. Yah!

Adoption counsellors can take on as many or as few applications as they choose. However, to keep up to date and involved in the adoptions process, it’s ideal for counsellors to have at least 6 hours of volunteer time available per week. Although it may only take a few moments to assist an applicant with their application, it’s important members of the adoptions team respond to emails readily and on a daily basis. All VOKRA volunteers are asked to commit at least 6 months of their time.

Adoption counsellors tasks include:

  • Receiving and reviewing new adoption applications
  • Contacting applicants, scheduling interviews and follow-up
  • Matching kitties and/or suggesting kitties for applicants
  • Liase with fosters to learn more about kitties personalities, pairings, etc..
  • Working with approved applicants to schedule viewing with kitties
  • Follow-up with applicants after viewings
  • Forward adopters to the papers team for processing/payment completion
  • Respond to adopters queries post adoption
  • Update database at each step to reflect status of adoption applications

Members of the adoptions team work closely together to manage the volume of applicants that apply to adopt through VOKRA. If you’re looking to join a fantastic group of people and help kitties find loving forever home then the adoptions team is for you!

To apply to become an adoption counsellor click here.

Questions? Email volunteervokra@gmail.com

Meet Charlie & Angel

Charlie and Angel are a brother and sister duo looking for a forever home together.

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Charlie’s very sweet and loves to be around people. He adored cuddling and receiving pets, and if you don’t have time to give him a pet he’ll be sure to patiently wait for one. He enjoys playing with his sister Angel and his favourite toy is the laser. He’s very friendly and will come up on the bed and sit on the pillow in the morning.

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Just like her brother, Angel loves to be around people. Her hobbies include cuddling, being pet and napping in your lap. She also likes playing with her toys and Charlie. For some reason, she also really enjoys watching her human friends in the kitchen, whether they’re cooking or doing dishes! Angel’s a very friendly kitty and was recently a young mama to her three kittens who have now been adopted.

If you’re hoping for a pair of adorable and loving cats to enter your life, look no further!

If you’re interested in adopting Charlie and Angel please visit our website at vokra.ca/adopt to fill out an adoption form.

Special thanks to Laura Bartlett for these great photos of Charlie and Angel!

Poppy & Hazelnut’s Happy Tail Ending

dsc_0650Four years ago I was contacted by a woman named Laura who wanted to meet two semi-feral kittens I was fostering.  They were initially shy but had become playful and vocal companions to my cat and me.  (Soon enough mischievous Hazelnut would do things like pulling bottles out of the kitchen cupboard at 1 a.m.!)

dsc_0655When she came to meet them, Laura and I spent two extended sessions sitting in my bathroom as she tried to imagine if a bond would develop if she adopted the kittens.  After much thought Laura decided to adopt the two sisters and her faith was rewarded since Poppy and Hazelnut have become, in her words, “happy campers, goofy and more confident, extremely communicative with me, giving me lots of love and positive attention and are fun every day.”

When she decided to adopt the two sisters Laura wrote, “So, I’m going to do it!  I feel happy and excited and honoured to adopt these two beautiful little felines! “.

After their adoption Poppy showed an interest in children and Hazelnut began to focus on doing surveillance of the perimeter of her new home through the windows and busily trotted back and forth between them, keeping on top of things.  Poppy and Hazelnut’s new beginning with Laura has meant more love for all three of them,  not to mention a fantastic cat tree for sunny naps.

Post written by Katherine Drabek

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Top 10 Best Things About Black Cats: 2016 Edition

Black cats are some of the best cats around – ask anyone who is lucky enough to have one in their lives. Sadly though, black cats are usually the last to be adopted, despite the fact they’re just as loving and wonderful as a cat of any other colour. Half of the cats we currently have for adoption are black. Many of them are adults, further lowering their chances of adoption.

In honor of Black Cat Day, here are the Top 10 Best Things About Black Cats featuring some of our very own kitties currently up for adoption:

10. When you befriend a black cat, you have a friend for life. They’re some of the most loyal cats around!

angel

Angel loves to be around people, cuddling and receiving pets.

9. They know how to cuddle and they’re experts at it.

patty-tolan

Patty Tolan is a confident little fluffball who loves playing and napping, and napping and playing.

8. What they lack in fancy colors they make up for in purrsonality- no two are alike!

lanakila_kolohekoa_poheke

Lanakila, Kolohekoa and Poheke are all full of purrsonality.

7. They have gorgeous eyes that, thanks to their beautiful black coats, truly stand out.

moogy

Moogy is super confident and will make herself at home with you in no time.

6. They’re like miniature black panthers, just small enough to fit in your home.

sesam

Sesam is very friendly and enjoys spending time with people.

5. They have very distinct meows- you’ll know who’s calling for dinner.

saffy

Saffy is a sweet, intelligent lady with an insatiable curiosity for her surroundings and a love for food.

4. They purr so much and so loudly that you wonder how they never run out of purrs.

lionel

Lionel‘s a sweetheart and is sure to bring a lot of fun and joy into your life!

3. They usually have a trick or two up their sleeve, like headbutts or hi-fives or turning shoes into beds.

charlie

Charlie likes to come up to the bed and sit on the pillow in the morning when he’s hungry.

2. They’re good luck – bring a black cat into your life and it will only get better. And better.

vidi

Vidi is extremely sweet and perfect for someone who’s looking for a lap cat.

1. They have sooo much love to give. They’ve often waited so long to be adopted that when they finally are, they will truly be all yours.

quidi

Quidi‘s an affection-seeking cuddler who’s always fighting for a spot on his foster mom’s lap.