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Letters: Richmond animal charity balances business and care

RAPS CEO bites back at allegations of putting profit ahead of animal welfare
RAPS has been delivering the city's animal control and shelter contract since 2007. File photo

Dear Editor,

Re: “Animal contract takes us back 13 years,” Letters, Dec. 10.

It has been an honour for the Regional Animal Protection Society (RAPS) to operate the City of Richmond Animal Shelter since 2007. We made Richmond a “no-kill community” and we are immensely proud of the lives we have saved and improved over the past 13 years.

As the city begins the process of redeveloping the shelter, council has decided to partner with our friends at the BC SPCA to accommodate the animals during the next two years period of construction.

BC SPCA has a constellation of shelters that can welcome the animals from Richmond, whereas RAPS would have needed to construct an entirely new, temporary shelter, something RAPS could not afford. RAPS understands the city’s decision.

A recent letter in these pages imagines some sort of intrigue in which the city conspired to deprive RAPS of the shelter operations.

In fact, the city’s decision makes eminent sense.

More concerning are assertions that the governance of RAPS is somehow prioritizing “successful business infrastructure” over "compassion and care". 

As non-profit organizations grow, successful ones adapt and apply best business practices to the non-profit sector to better ave funds to invest in community programs. This is what RAPS has done over the past five years.

By professionalizing every aspect of our operations – as well as opening a community-owned, not-for-profit animal hospital – we have been able to save and improve the lives of exponentially more animals than ever before.

Since 2016, RAPS has gone from assisting 1,500 animals to 15,000 animals per year. We have greater amount of volunteers. They ensure that every animal receives the individualized care they need and deserve. Our administrative costs are among the lowest in the non-profit sector. Our employees, volunteers and supporters admire our organization and recognize that, to do more of what we do best, we need to operate professionally. This is why we have been recognized this year by Richmond News Best of Richmond as both Best Community Organization and Best Veterinarian and why the Richmond Chamber of Commerce recognized RAPS in both Association of the Year and Business Excellence categories.

It is obvious RAPS has deep and extensive support in Richmond. Also, RAPS has five times the number of members from just a few years ago. To interpret these achievements as demonstrating anything but great support for RAPS requires a very particular sort of misunderstanding.

There is no conflict between applying the “head” of business principles with the “heart” of caring for animals – indeed it is the ideal path for a future of more and better care for the animals.

As we have made changes in order to save and improve more lives, a small number of disgruntled individuals and online warriors have disapproved of our progressive initiatives and professionalization.

The recognitions we have received this year – and the enthusiastic support of tens of thousands of Richmond residents – assure us we are on the proper path.

We owe it to the animals to operate the most efficient, effective charity possible. That is what we will continue to do, without apology.

Eyal Lichtmann