Letter: Donations change the equation, says Richmond’s RAPS CEO

Dear Editor,

Re: “No-kill cat shelter makes no sense,” Letters, Aug. 8.

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Letter writer Brian Bennett seems concerned that city taxpayers’ money is going into services for animals – in particular, the $8-million capital project for a new city animal shelter. He also seems to take issue with the fact that RAPS is a no-kill organization. In the process, he makes statements that need correcting.

The city animal shelter is restricted to a maximum of 20 dogs and 40 cats — not 500 cats, as he asserts. He may be confusing the shelter with the RAPS Cat Sanctuary, a forever home for 500 unadoptable cats — and which receives no city funding.

Unlike Surrey, which has 20,000 feral cats, RAPS has been humanely trapping cats for 25 years, placing them at the RAPS Cat Sanctuary, to the benefit of Richmond residents.

The writer calculates $500 annually per animal for food alone. In fact, because of our extraordinary relationships with donors and supporters, it costs 23 cents a day to feed a cat ($84 per year) and 46 cents a day to feed a dog ($168 per year). Likewise, the 500+ volunteers who contributed 39,000 hours of volunteer time last year (a value of more than $500,000 if calculated at minimum wage) help us provide individualized care to animals while keeping our budgets extremely tight. Volunteers and financial supporters are motivated by our no-kill ethos, which reduces the cost of running the animal shelter. RAPS provides immense value to Richmond residents because other shelters that are not operated by a charity organization like RAPS can cost twice as much per capita.

Cats that are unadoptable at the shelter are transferred to the Cat Sanctuary — eliminating all further costs to the city. Dogs that are not adopted are fostered into loving homes, again at no cost to the city.

Mr. Bennett is correct that animals require veterinary care. In February 2018, we opened the RAPS Animal Hospital — B.C.’s largest not-for-profit animal hospital — which provides subsidized care and the city benefits from receiving veterinary care at a reduced cost than the “retail” veterinary facilities upon which the shelter previously relied. This $1-million enterprise was accomplished at no cost whatsoever to city taxpayers. And since opening, RAPS Animal Hospital has provided more than $800,000 in fully or partially subsidized vet care to the public. We also have a Pet Food Bank to assist families in need.

All the revenue from our hospital’s services to the public are reinvested into RAPS programs, including the city animal shelter, to save and improve the lives of more animals!

Readers who agree that animals make our lives, families, neighbourhoods and communities safer, happier and healthier are invited to learn more about us and get involved at rapsbc.com.

Eyal Lichtmann,

Executive Director and CEO, RAPS


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