Society hopes to build dog sanctuary

Dogs can be a handful and not every owner knows how to train their furry companion, but soon owners could have a place to turn.

Members of the Vancouver Island Big Dogz Society want to create a sanctuary offering a variety of services for dog owners.

Jennifer Block, president and chairwoman of the society, said it will offer education classes, boarding facilities, doggie daycare and safe play areas. Society members hope to create a one-stop dog spot in the city, she said.

“It will be a safe sanctuary for dogs in need of rescue and a venue for practitioners to provided education to the general public,” said Block. “We want everyone involved – dog lovers and dog owners.”

Block said education is key in creating good canine neighbours.

“In the long run, [dogs] are better family pets and better community members,” she said.

The sanctuary will have handlers to help educate people on how to handle their dogs.

Kathy Reilly, owner of Miss Behavior’s Family Dog Training, said a facility like the sanctuary is “absolutely” needed in Nanaimo. Reilly will help members of the society with the educational component.

“We need more education out there for dog owners,” she said.

Reilly said many owners bring their dogs to her because of behaviour issues. She finds that many problems originate from the owners' handling methods.

The society hopes to offer subsidies for people in need to take dog education lessons.

Leon Davis, shelter manager for the Nanaimo and District SPCA, agreed there is always room for education, as long as it's the right kind, offering positive reinforcement.

The proposed facility will also provide boarding and act as a rescue location for large breed dogs that might be in crisis. Block said the society hopes to work with other organizations to board dogs taken away from owners.

“We hope to be able to take the pressure off of other facilities,” she said.

But the facility won’t be equipped to handle aggressive dogs, and the society plans to start slow and expand carefully.

Davis said the SPCA has a certification process for all facilities it works with for rescue animals, adding the SPCA welcomes the society to discuss the process.

The society has its eyes on a 2.8-hectare site in a central location within the Regional District of Nanaimo, but is still trying to secure the money to lease the space and won’t release details until the deal is finalized.

The society hopes to raise $15,000 to start the project, and the hope is the facility will be self-sufficient with money gained from services, after the initial startup costs are covered.

To kickoff fundraising, it’s hosting a fundraising gala April 16 at the Cedar Community Hall, located at 2388 Cedar Rd.

Family fun runs from 2-5 p.m. with obedience and agility demonstrations and guest speakers, admittance by donation. From 7 p.m. to midnight it’s an adult only affair with dancing and live entertainment at the hall.

Tickets for the dance are $15 and available at Olivers Pet Supplies, located at Brooks Landing, or by e-mailing Block at Tickets can also be purchased at the door if available.


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