Richmond animal charity set to open its hospital

RAPS was, apparently, on the cusp of financial ruin due to a naming dispute with a regulatory body

The Richmond animal charity on the verge of financial ruin will, after all, get to open its new hospital.

The Richmond News reported last week how a legal dispute with the College of Veterinarians of B.C. (CVBC) over the naming of the hospital was threatening to bring the Regional Animal Protection Society (RAPS) to its knees.

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RAPS had committed financially to the tune of $750,000 ($50,000 a month) to open the 6,000 square-foot facility at the Richmond Auto Mall this month, but an apparent wrangle over the use of the word “regional” while doing business at the hospital was proving to be a stumbling block.

However, on Thursday afternoon, RAPS’ CEO, Eyal Lichtmann, heard through the non-profit’s lawyer that the college had relaxed some of the rules it had set down and it was enough to allow the hospital to go ahead.

Although the facility will not be called “regional,” – it will be named “RAPS Animal Hospital” – RAPS will be allowed to do business there as the “Regional Animal Protection Society.”

“The college is allowing us to use the logo with the word “regional” in it and the hospital can operate day-to-day using our full, registered title,” a very happy and relieved Lichtmann told the News.

“The impact from the media was a huge factor. But I appreciate the college being collaborative on this and now we can all move forward and we are very much looking to finalize the accreditation as soon as possible.

“Since yesterday, the college has been very accommodating in putting us in touch with the right people, in terms of the accreditation process.

“We’re a month behind schedule and we’re now rushing to get things going, but we are very excited with this development.”

The college’s CEO and registrar, Luisa Hlus, told the News on Friday afternoon that the two parties had "reached an accord" with regard to the hospital's naming and that certain "stipulations" as to how RAPS would be able to operate have been "tweaked to everyone's satisfaction."

She pointed out, however, that the college has still to accredit the hospital, if and when it receives a permit and license from the City of Richmond.

RAPS' CEO Eyal Lichtmann shows off the non-profit's new animal hospital, which is ready to be fitted out. However, a dispute over the naming of the million-dollar facility had threatened the future of the organization. - Alan Campbell/Richmond News

Lichtmann said they are now full steam ahead with getting their equipment out of its packaging and installed.

“We need to get the electrical and plumbing inspections done before we can get the occupancy permit from the City of Richmond,” he added.

“Then, we will look to get the accreditation from the college.

“We should be open by the beginning of February and will have our grand opening about halfway through the month.”

Lichtmann said people can register on the RAPS website – - to attend the opening, as there will be a limited number of spaces.

As well as the finances, Lichtmann told the News last week how the dispute with the regulating college – which must first approve the name and then give accreditation - over the simple naming of the $1 million-facility was risking the welfare of around 500, unadoptable cats at its sanctuary, the biggest of its kind in Canada.

RAPS decided about 18 months ago to set up its own hospital, citing the “crippling” cost of out-sourcing veterinary care for the thousands of animals it cares for annually.

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