Heroes of the two-legged and four-legged kind were honoured at the annual BC SPCA Awards ceremony on May 30 and at its society AGM on May 31.
From a once-shy dog who turned into a courageous protector for his new family to a duo of deserving veterinarians to the brand-new Humane Community Award, the awards recognized and honoured human and furry recipients from throughout British Columbia.
Veterinarian of the Year – Dr. Moshe Oz and Dr. Noa Oz
Kelowna couple Dr. Moshe Oz and Dr. Noa Oz, both born and raised in Israel, are the owners of Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital, located in West Kelowna. Known for their tireless efforts to help animals, often at no charge or discounted rates, this veterinary pair regularly help out not just one, but several BC SPCA branches: Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon being the main three, as well as branches as far away as Nelson, Kamloops and the Shuswap. This dedicated duo are always willing and available to help the province’s most vulnerable animals in any way they can.
Volunteer of the Year – Birthe Levie
Birthe Levie helps care for the nearly 2,500 wild patients Wild ARC – the BC SPCA’s wild animal rehabilitation centre on Vancouver Island – admits each year, from cleaning cages to washing dishes and laundry to preparing patients’ diets. Levie also serves as a volunteer trainer and plays a key role on the Wild ARC events and fundraising team, helping to coordinate the Wild ARC annual Fall for Wildlife auction. A previous Community Council chair, Levie also lends her time as a member of the Wildlife Transport Team, knowing that often, the welfare of wild patients depends on how quickly they can receive treatment by Wild ARC rehabilitators.
Media Excellence Award – Darcy Wintonyk, CTV Vancouver
Darcy Wintonyk, senior online producer for CTV Vancouver, is a longtime animal lover and shelter volunteer and has personally rescued several animals through SPCA facilities. An Ontario native, Wintonyk joined CTV in 2005, and has done almost every job in the CTV newsroom, from writing and editing to producing daily and weekly news and consumer features, including the popular Steele on Your Side. Always willing to highlight the plight of an animal who needs help, Wintonyk often leads the way in media coverage of high-profile cases across the province.
Leadership Award – Colby O’Flynn
Born and raised in Quesnel, O’Flynn volunteered with her family as a dog walker for the Quesnel shelter before being hired as a summer student in 2009. O’Flynn was eventually hired as a full-time animal care attendant and, in 2012, became the branch manager. With her positive attitude and “can-do” approach, O’Flynn leads by example and is eager to learn. She has not only exceeded her budgeted fundraising goals, she also achieved outstanding adoption numbers, and has worked extremely hard to build community and donor support.
Humane Community Award – Lee-Ann Unger and James Rodgers
Tofino residents Lee-Ann Unger and James Rodgers are making a difference for animals in B.C. Volunteers at the Port Alberni BC SPCA Branch since 2011, Unger and Rodgers quickly realized their region, which includes several remote communities located on small islands off the West Coast of Vancouver Island, had animal welfare issues including massive overpopulation of animals, free-roaming and packing dogs, sick and injured animals, puppies and kittens being born with no one to care for them, unvaccinated puppies succumbing to the paro virus and animals dying from starvation and predation. They formed the Coastal Animal Rescue and Education Network and coordinate weekly visits by their team to the region’s remote communities. As a result of their commitment, more than 600 free-roaming dogs have been rehomed in recent years.
Caring Company Award – BMO Bank of Montreal
A lot of companies say they care. BMO Bank of Montreal is a company that proves how much it cares, a company that has shown outstanding support for animals in need throughout British Columbia. BMO is committed to helping improve the quality of life in the communities where they live and work, and the BC SPCA has benefitted from BMO Bank of Montreal’s generous support through two major initiatives – the BMO BC SPCA Affinity Card Program and the sponsorship of the National Cupcake Day for SPCAs and Humane Societies. Since its inception, the BMO BC SPCA Affinity Card has raised more than $1.2 million for animals in need across B.C.
Philanthropist of the Year Award – Thomas Alan Budd
Since moving to Kelowna several years ago, Thomas Budd, a former investment banker, has gifted the community’s animals with his generosity and philanthropic leadership. A regular at the Kelowna BC SPCA branch’s annual gala, Budd is known for inspiring other animal lovers by pledging to match donations at the event. His organization, the Thomas Alan Budd Foundation, acted as the gala’s title sponsor in 2013 and will do so again this fall. An animal lover who gives to several charitable organizations, Budd knows that pets and their guardians share a powerful connection and wants to help ensure all animals experience happy lives with loving families.
Animal Courage Award – Kevin
Kevin was found living in horrific conditions in Abbotsford. A two-year-old blue-nose pit bull, this gentle soul lived in a dark home with boarded-up windows and no light, in a mire of feces and urine where he was used for breeding. He and other dogs in the home were left to fight over whatever scraps were occasionally tossed on the floor and because he wasn’t a fighter, Kevin was emaciated and injured when he came into the BC SPCA’s care. Fearful at first, Kevin was scared and unsure of other dogs, but with the love and attention of BC SPCA staff and adoptive guardians Brad and Marlene Keefe, Kevin’s gentle and affectionate personality is shining bright as he enjoys a happy life with his new family.
Animal Courage Award – Molly
She was extremely emaciated and near death when she was found outside on her owner’s porch in the cold, late November temperatures, her collar deeply embedded into her neck. Molly, a gentle 18-month-old German shepherd cross, was rushed to a nearby veterinary hospital and given emergency treatment to keep her alive. Despite the odds, which were stacked high against this lovable girl, she pulled through and survived. One of the most horrific cruelty cases ever witnessed by the BC SPCA, staff found it hard to comprehend how anyone could allow a dog to slowly starve to death. Molly is now thriving in her new home with one of the RCMP officers who first helped her get the care she so desperately needed.
Animal Hero Award – Bam
Bam is a once-timid stray dog-turned-rescuer who is now happy with his new family in Prince George. On a cold night late last year, guardian Brock Schell was shovelling snow in the dark, moving away from the house. Suddenly, the usually quiet Bam started barking and growling and Brock realized that a large cougar – not Bam or one of their other dogs – was between him and his house. Bam barked and growled loudly, alerting one of their other dogs, who came to investigate at the same time as Brock’s wife, Toni Schell, pulled into the driveway, encouraging the cougar to run away. “If Bam hadn’t been there, or if I had been by myself, I don’t know how that would have played out. We haven’t seen the cougar since,” Brock says.
Lifetime Achievement Award – Dr. Carol Morgan
Victoria resident and veterinarian Dr. Carol Morgan is a tireless advocate for animals in British Columbia and across Canada. She has served as deputy registrar of the B.C. Veterinary Medical Association and is a prolific and respected author of articles on topics ranging from animal cloning to the role of veterinarians in animal protection. Morgan has lent her veterinary and academic expertise to a broad array of animal welfare policy issues, including the use the animals in research (as a board member of the Canadian Council on Animal Care), companion animals (as a contributing author of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association’s Code of Practice for Kennel Operations and Catteries), and for farm animals (through her work on the recent revisions to the federal Codes of Practice for both sheep and pigs).
Branch of the Year Award – Parksville Qualicum Beach & District
The leadership and teamwork of manager Nadine Durante, her staff, volunteers and a highly effective Community Council combine to create an outstanding BC SPCA location at the Parksville Qualicum Beach & District Branch. “There’s a feeling when you first walk in the door – it’s a welcoming environment,” says BC SPCA Vancouver Island, Salt Spring and Powell River regional manager Graeme Wright. “The staff and volunteers are friendly and helpful. It’s a warm, hospitable feeling and (the branch) is always organized and clean.” Last year, the community helped the branch raise more than $41,500 and the shelter also had record adoption numbers, with an eight-per-cent increase in adopted animals in 2012 and an amazing 29 per cent increase in 2013, when 278 animals found their forever homes.
The BC SPCA Awards program honours both people and animals who have made outstanding contributions to animal welfare during the past year. Recipients include veterinarians, staff, volunteers and animal heroes. *Special thanks to Big Dog, Little Dog Bakery, which generously provided the gift bags for the three courageous animals honoured at the Awards Ceremony*
The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a not-for-profit organization reliant on public donations. Our mission is to protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C.