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This year marks quarter century of saving lives

By Eyal Lichtmann

Published 10:34 PDT, Tue September 15, 2020

Last Updated: 10:35 PDT, Tue September 15, 2020

Recently, a family’s dog escaped from the back yard in West Richmond. Neighbours and the extended family searched from Steveston to Terra Nova looking for Ace, who is elderly and mostly blind and so at risk of being struck by a car. As it turned out, Ace didn’t go far. He settled down in the front yard of a home a few blocks away. The resident there called the RAPS Animal Shelter, we picked him up and he was safe in our Shelter while the family was frantically searching all over town. The lesson here: If your pet goes missing, always call RAPS first (604- 275-2036)! Your best friend may already be in our care. 

A few weeks ago, a Richmond resident called to say there was a mother cat with kittens in a storage building at the back of their very large property. The RAPS team came with humane traps and securely captured the mama and five kittens. Zora and her then-six-week-old babes are in foster care now. Mom Zora is very hissy and unlikely to become socialized. So, when her kids are adopted, she will go to the RAPS Cat Sanctuary, a sprawling acreage where hundreds of mostly unadoptable cats live out their lives surrounded by all the love and care they need and want—regardless of their medical conditions or particular personalities. In so many jurisdictions, cats like Zora might have been euthanized. The RAPS Cat Sanctuary was created specifically so that cats like these can find a peaceful place to live life on their terms.

Last year, Barney, a Maltese-Pomeranian mix, was in a terrible accident. The dog, estimated to be about seven or eight years old, was struck by a car and dragged, creating severe injuries to his hind body. RAPS Animal Hospital, a full-service, not-for-profit veterinary facility located in the Richmond Auto Mall, is home to Canada’s only veterinary hyperbaric oxygen therapy facility. This advanced technology, long used in human medical care, aids in the recovery of wounds, skin grafts and similar injuries. It provides anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and tissue-healing benefits, accelerating healing dramatically, especially in conditions involving an oxygen deficit. Today, Barney is fully recovered and living a spectacular life with his family.

These three vignettes help tell the story of the Regional Animal Protection Society. We began 25 years ago as a tiny team of volunteers who trapped feral and stray cats in Richmond, and spayed and neutered them. As a result, Richmond today has essentially no feral cats. By contrast, it is estimated that Surrey had tens of thousands. We grew. We opened the RAPS Cat Sanctuary, which is now Canada’s largest. Since 2007, we have run the City of Richmond Animal Shelter, officially making Richmond a no-kill community. In 2018, we opened the community-owned RAPS Animal Hospital. All of our facilities are located right here in Richmond. Except during COVID, the Cat Sanctuary is open weekends to the public and attracts thousands of visitors who enjoy visiting the hundreds of feline residents.

If it weren’t for COVID, we would be inviting you to a grand celebration in the coming weeks marking 25 years of RAPS saving and improving the lives of animals in our community. It’s still our anniversary, but we’re celebrating in a little more low-key way. Next spring, we hope to have a gala celebration, probably virtual. 

But we wanted to take this opportunity to thank the thousands of people who have allowed us to do everything we have accomplished over these 25 years. Everything we do is possible because of the support of animal-loving people in the community who volunteer, adopt, foster, donate, choose the RAPS Animal Hospital as your veterinarian, shop at the RAPS Thrift Stores and support us in so many ways.

Your support for 25 years has allowed us to make positive impacts on the lives of tens of thousands of animals—and at least that many humans!

Eyal Lichtmann is executive director and CEO of the Regional Animal Protection Society.

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