Science says, “Get a Cat if you want to be healthy (and happy)!”

From Emily at Catological

I recently found a few interesting studies that showed that owning a cat not only provides emotional benefits for humans, but also physiological ones. As this sounded a bit strange, I dug deeper and was amazed to find all the benefits our little friends give us.

Just to list a few, and starting with the most commonly known one, science has proven that petting a cat makes you calm and happy. Amazingly, they also help to keep our blood pressure under control, lower our risk of getting a heart attack by about 30%, and their purrs may actually make you feel calmer and may help you sleep better at night.

As I can only list few of them here, check out the infographic below to get a detailed breakdown of the many ways that cats can help us humans. And if you have room for one, check out all the cats and kittens  VOKRA currently has up for adoption here.

If you want to learn more about the details behind each benefit, check out the original infographic at catological.com!

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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.

A Vancouver Renter’s Plea

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We received the following heart wrenching letter on March 22, 2016.

To whom it may concern,

I’m a renter and my family has recently welcomed our second child! We are now a family of 6 – Dad, Mom, Toddler, Baby, Dog & Cat. We rent because we don’t have a down payment for a home that’s big enough for all of us. We need a minimum of 3 bedrooms. We won’t be having anymore children and our cat & dog are our family.

I’m writing this because for the past year we have been searching for a home for the 6 of us to rent in Vancouver. 1 full year of searching. The added stress to my pregnancy was terrible. We needed a bigger home for the humans that had at least 3 bedrooms, of course, but that wasn’t our biggest issue. Our dog is 60 pounds. She is far from a large dog, she’s a medium dog. She’s a mix breed that we rescued from the SPCA because we love dogs and believe a house isn’t a home without pets.

My husband and I grew up with homes full of pets; dogs, cats, hamsters, fish and bunnies. We both agreed that the memories we both had from animals in the home were extremely important to us for our kids. Our dog is wonderful and is my toddlers best friend. The idea of sending our dog back to the SPCA is out of the question. Our dog is our family.

Our cat was rescued from VOKRA years ago and my lap is never cold because our cat takes the job of “snuggler” very seriously. I have cried into our cats fur several times because it looks like we might have to send both our pets back to the very shelters we saved them from.

I’m writing this to you because my family finds itself in a horrible position: we can’t afford to buy a home in this city, but we also can’t rent in this city because not all our family members are welcome. “No pets” has become the normalcy in rentals and this means my toddler will lose his best friend and I will lose my lap warmer. Right now our current home allows all 6 of us, but it’s just too small. We need to grow into a bigger home, except there isn’t one that allows all of us to live in. Something has to give.

In Ontario a landlord has to accept your entire family – including your pets, why doesn’t British Columbia do that for us? We are not loud or messy or irresponsible. And yet, we can’t find anywhere to live in the city my husband and I both grew up in. We are getting to the point that both our dog and cat will be returned to the SPCA and VOKRA. Please help us. Please fix the housing crisis that this city faces. We can afford to live here as renters, we just aren’t all welcome.

Signed,

A Vancouver Renter

I’m Thankful for Snuggles

catfe logoThis post was written by Michelle Furbacher and originally appeared on the Catfe blog on October 11, 2015. It’s reprinted here with her permission.

 

snugglesI would like to express gratitude to VOKRA for their foster program which has blessed me with such a wonderful companion for the past two months, and in particular this holiday, when I needed a friend. This weekend, with my family far away, I’ve got one temporary family member to celebrate the holiday with and keep me company — my foster cat, Snuggles.

When I took on the fostering of this little dude, I could not have predicted the impact it would have on me, and on Catfe as well. In September, Catfe joined forces with Stretch Yoga to host Cats on your Mats, a yoga class and fundraiser for VOKRA in a studio filled with cats! The event was a success, and helped raise money and awareness for orphaned kittens. It was also the perfect opportunity to learn first hand what it’s like to herd a bunch of cats together in one room and see what hijinks ensue. I brought Snuggles along for the adventure.

He’s a curious, friendly cat who loves to explore and play, and the event provided lots of stimulation for him… but when I brought Snuggles home at the end of the day, his purr motor kicked into overdrive, and I was touched by how much he loved being in his own home. Until then we had been planning for Catfe to be home to a stable colony of permanent feline residents — but Snuggles’s purring became the soundtrack to my epiphany that every cat deserves to find a loving home where they can purr to their heart’s content, snuggled up with their trusted human.

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VOKRA is different from other cat rescues in the Lower Mainland: their foster system is unique, as they do not house their cats in cages until they are adopted, but rather in home settings. In foster care, VOKRA cats get to live in a safe, comfortable environment while they wait for forever homes. I came to the realization that Catfe can be more of a force for good by providing a spacious, temporary home in a stimulating environment for other less fortunate cats, who are currently housed in cages or small living spaces at other shelters.

So thanks to Snuggles, Catfe has changed its course: our business will help cats who are most in need find permanent homes. All cats at Catfe will be available for adoption, with a focus on getting cats out of shelter cages, rather than taking them out of foster homes.

Our cats will come from the BC SPCA, and Catfe will act as a centre for support and awareness for animal rescues and charities all over British Columbia. Each month we will donate a percentage of our profits to a different charity, and help shine a spotlight on the important work that they do. VOKRA will be the first of these charities, and I look forward to continuing our relationship together, promoting their TNR program, cat and kitten adoptions, and of course their foster program. If you have a little extra room in your home and your heart, think about fostering a cat — it just may change your life!

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In Memory of Gail Moerkerken

GailOn September 25, 2015, the animal rescue community in BC and throughout North America lost a great human being. Gail Moerkerken was a fearless, tireless, intelligent, perceptive and articulate advocate for all creatures and a great friend and colleague to VOKRA.

Gail founded Big Heart Rescue Society, which rescued dogs and cats throughout BC, with a special focus on Bella Bella. She was a coordinator for Noah’s Wish, an emergency disaster response organization for animals. This took her to the heart of numerous major incidents. In Fire Storm 2003, she worked flat out to save and rehabilitate companion animals and livestock in Kamloops and Kelowna. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, she lived in the disaster zone for many weeks on end, working long hours each day to rescue abandoned and injured animals.

In her home community on Gabriola Island, she was the Emergency Social Services Pet Care Coordinator, a volunteer with GROWLS (Gabriola Rescue of Wildlife Society) and a volunteer with Gabriola Cats Alive. In 2014, she founded Spirit’s Mission, a rescue organization dedicated to eliminating disease, neglect and overpopulation for cats and dogs in BC’s remote communities. Spirit’s Mission will continue, albeit with a heavy heart, to fulfill Gail’s vision of a province in which no cats or dogs are abused, neglected or left to suffer disease and starvation.

Gail’s last cat rescue was a few months ago, of a cat who lived on Gabriola and for whom Cats Alive had no foster home. Oskar was slated to be killed as he had developed a chronic urinary problem that his family could not manage. Gail asked VOKRA to accept Oskar and he is now fully healthy and has been adopted into an adoring home. Despite her failing health, Gail kept on rescuing and advocating for animals. They always came first.

She leaves behind a legion of people who are devastated by losing her, but who will continue to pursue her ideals. She was a mother-figure, a soul-sister, a teacher, a mentor, a counsellor, an inspiration and an unshakeable rock of conviction for countless individuals.

Gail, we and all of the animals cannot thank you enough. We wish you the peace that you brought to so many. Farewell.

~ Dania Sheldon, on behalf of VOKRA

Memorial donations may be made to Spirit’s Mission Rescue Society via their website at http://www.spiritsmission.com or by cheque to Spirit’s Mission Rescue, PO Box 95, Gabriola, V0R 1X0

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In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Gail spent many weeks rescuing injured and abandoned animals.

2015 AGM set for August 27

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VOKRA will be holding its 2015 Annual General Meeting on August 27, our second since we officially became a society last year. Anyone can attend our AGM, however in order to vote you need to become a society member. Membership is only $10 and is a great way to show your support for VOKRA.

2015 VOKRA AGM
Thursday, August 27
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
VOKRA Operations Centre at 2028 Wall Street, Vancouver
RSVP & BECOME A SOCIETY MEMBER 

At the AGM we will be electing a new board of directors to serve an annual term until August 2016. Board membership is a leadership position within VOKRA that guides the organization to achieve its mission. Directors act in a position of trust for the community and are responsible for the effective governance of our organization.

We’re looking for board members with a desire to dedicate time to the development of VOKRA, and we could especially use people with financial and fundraising skills. Here’s what it takes to be a board member:

  • MEMBERSHIP IN THE VOKRA SOCIETY! You must be a member to be a board member
  • Commitment to the work of the organization
  • Knowledge and skills in one or more areas of board governance: policy, finance, programs, personnel, fundraising and advocacy
  • Willingness to serve on committees and attend committee meetings
  • Attendance at monthly board meetings + preparation time to review materials
  • Attendance at meetings of assigned committees
  • Attendance at Annual General Meetings
  • Attendance at membership meetings
  • Support of special events
  • Support of and participation in fundraising events

Board positions include:

President Emeritus – Provides VOKRA historical perspective to the board members; keeps the board’s activities focused on the organization’s mission and makes sure the board adheres to its bylaws and constitution. Required to attend monthly VOKRA Board meetings, including preparation time to review materials.

Chair – Provides leadership to the board; makes sure the board adheres to its bylaws and constitution; prepares the agenda for board meetings; chairs meetings of the board; keeps the board’s discussion on topic by summarizing issues; keeps the board’s activities focused on the organization’s mission; orients board members to the board; serves as ex officio member of committees and attends their meetings when possible; promotes the organization’s purpose in the community and to the media; prepares a report for the Annual General Meeting; and orients the new board chair. Required to attend monthly VOKRA board meeting, including preparation time to review materials, and attendance at board committee meetings on an ad-hoc basis.

Vice Chair – Acts in the absence of the chairperson; works closely as consultant and advisor to the chairperson; and orients the new vice chair. Required to attend monthly VOKRA board meeting, including preparation time to review materials.

Secretary – Keeps copies of the organization’s bylaws and the board’s policy statements; keeps lists of officers, board members, committees and general membership; notifies board members of meetings; brings official minute book to meetings; keeps record of board attendance; makes sure that there is a quorum at board meetings; keeps accurate minutes of meetings; records all motions and decisions of meetings; keeps copies of minutes of both board and committee meetings; distributes copies of minutes to board members promptly after meetings; files the annual return, amendments to the bylaws and other incorporating documents; makes sure members are notified of general meetings; and in the absence of the chairperson and vice chairperson, chairs board meetings until the election of an alternate chairperson. Required to attend monthly VOKRA board meeting, including preparation time to review materials.

Treasurer – Gives regular reports to the Board on the financial state of the organization; keeps financial reports on file; undertakes special projects to reduce costs; chairs the finance committee; acts as signing officer, with another officer or executive director for cheques and other documents; and orients the new treasurer. Required to attend monthly VOKRA Board meeting, including preparation time to review materials and monthly finance committee meeting to prepare up to date financial statements.

Directors at Large – A director is fully informed on organizational matters and participates in the Board’s deliberations and decisions in matters of policy, finance, programs, personnel and advocacy. They also review the bylaws and policy manual and recommend bylaw changes to the membership; participate in the development of VOKRA’s organizational plan and annual review; and assist in developing and maintaining positive relations among the board, committees, OMT, volunteers and community to enhance VOKRA’s mission. Require to attend monthly VOKRA board meeting, including preparation time to review materials.

If you’ve got what it takes and want to learn more email communications@vokra.ca

Get Your Back to School Gift Cards

VOKRA-Back-to-School-smlHelp save kitties just by doing your back to school shopping!

Purchase a gift card through us and the retailer donates to VOKRA – and you still receive full value for your card. Use the gift cards for school supplies, computers, clothing, meals, and more!

Some of the many retailers included in the program are:

Staples
The Bay
London Drugs
Shoppers Drug Mart
Sears
Best Buy
Chapters/Indigo
The Gap, Old Navy & Banana Republic
Sport Chek
Walmart
Winners
+ grocery stores, including Safeway & Save On Foods
and many more!

You can view the full list at vokra.ca/giftcards. To purchase simply email us at vokragiftcards@gmail.com. Payment and delivery options can be arranged via email. The next order deadline is August 30 so be sure to get your order in before then!