Leon Davis

Leon Davis

Nanaimo SPCA manager earns recognition

NANAIMO – Leon Davis recognized for community outreach and efforts to improve animal welfare in city.

B.C. SPCA’s Nanaimo branch manager Leon Davis is basking in the glow of peer recognition.

Davis was presented with the society’s 2015 Leadership Award, which honours staff who “exemplifies excellent teamwork and ingenuity” at the B.C. SPCA annual awards ceremony in Richmond on May 2.

“It’s a little humbling because I know most of my colleagues in the 36 other shelters and we all know how freaking hard everybody works,” Davis said.

Davis took over Nanaimo SPCA branch operations in 2009, but followed a winding road to specializing in animal welfare.

The 41-year-old was born in London, England, and came to Canada at age seven when his father took a job with an engineering firm in Calgary. After high school Davis returned to England where he learned management and community relations skills running a theme park in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, and also resurrected a failing aquarium, purchased by the theme park operators, which ultimately won three county business awards that included growing business of the year, staff training and environmental awareness. The awards and newspaper clippings of their presentations helped Davis land the SPCA job.

Davis has helped establish Nanaimo SPCA partnerships with Haven House, John Howard Society, programs working with people with disabilities and arranging emergency pet boarding for people dealing with health crises or mishaps, such as fires or floods that have forced them from their homes.

The society has changed its approach to adopting animals as well, by simplifying adoption forms and establishing relationships with clients to determine adoption suitability. Attitudes toward people surrendering pets they can no longer care for has shifted from a position of judgment to understanding.

“They shouldn’t be judged,” Davis said. “They should be applauded for coming here and trying to find help.”

He has also worked with the city to establish new animal welfare bylaws and to move forward on building a new shelter on a five-hectare property on Westwood Road, for which construction could get underway this summer.