Animal welfare: An interview with an expert

April 04, 2019
4 min read

Katie McCourt

Digital Content Specialist

Animal welfare charities

There are a number of great charities across Canada that are dedicated to improving the lives of animals. We recently had a chat with Eileen Drever from the BC SPCA about the most important issues in animal welfare today. Eileen currently works as the Senior Officer of Protection and Stakeholder Relations, but she has worked at the organization for 39 years in many roles.

This is what we learnt:

What are the top things you wish that everyone knew about animal welfare?

It’s not enough to provide animals with the basics, such as food, water and shelter. We have to be mindful that they are sentient beings, and suffer emotionally as well as physically.

What do you see as the most important issue in animal welfare today? How would you address it?

Unfortunately, animals are considered property under the current federal legislation. I would like to see that changed to sentient beings.

When my career began at the BC SPCA in 1980, we would see between 400 – 500 dogs come into the shelter each month. There were so many cats we didn’t even count them! Animals were seen as disposable, and it wouldn’t be unusual to see dogs running freely on the streets. Today, this is very rare.

If you visit your local shelter you will find most of the kennels empty, dogs and cats are usually wearing some form of ID, such as a tag, tattoo or a microchip and are spayed/neutered. We have come such a long way in my 39 years with the Society – we now use the term animal “Guardian” instead of “owner” and a lot of people refer to their four legged companions as “fur babies”.

From your time working in animal welfare, do you have any memorable stories?

I recall one dog I rescued out of a dumpster many years ago. The dog was wrapped in a plastic bag, and he’d managed to chew a hole in it so he could breathe. I immediately took him to a local veterinarian, but the poor dog, a geriatric, was unable to walk. When word got out, a number of people donated towards his care and he was fitted with a wheelchair.

We eventually located the owner who thought he had euthanized the dog, before throwing him in the dumpster. The owner wanted his dog back, but the BC SPCA applied to the Supreme Court of Canada to keep him, and we won! This little dog received acupuncture, aqua therapy and lots of love in his final days.

Do you have any other charities you donate to, or other causes you support? If so, why?

My other charity of choice is BC Children’s Hospital – I have an inherent need to try and help those that are unable to speak for themselves.


Thank you so much for sharing your insights with us, Eileen.

If you are passionate about animal welfare and would like to give to an animal welfare charity in Canada, then there are a number of great organizations on Charitable Impact to choose from. Charitable Impact is an online giving platform that helps you create the change you’d like to see in the world. You can create a free Impact Account today, and start giving to the charities and causes that matter most to you.

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