LOCAL FLAVOUR: Helping small animals
Lisa Hutcheon was a dedicated volunteer dog walker at the SPCA. But there was so much more she wanted to do.
Especially for the smaller animals who had found their way into cages at the shelter.
So she started the Small Animal Rescue Society of BC, dedicated to fostering and finding new homes for rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, hedgehogs and other caged creatures that are often used as "starter pets" then quickly neglected when the novelty wears off.
Sometimes they're left in parks to fend for themselves with little chance for survival against predators. Many are dropped at shelters, which often don't have the facilities or staff to give small caged animals the care and attention they need.
Active now for eight years, Hutcheon and her crew of about 30 volunteers in communities throughout Metro Vancouver take in referrals from shelters around the province. They care for them in foster homes or at their own dedicated shelter, then try to match them with new owners who are screened and checked for references.
Hutcheon says a lack of education about smaller animals is the main reason they're so busy.
"People think it's a kid's pet, so it's not much work," says Hutcheon. "They have to do their research."
A rabbit can live as long as a dog or cat. It needs space to move and, as a pack animal, it likes to be involved in family activities. Hedgehogs are prickly, so may not be the most cuddly pet. And guinea pigs and gerbils are notoriously nocturnal.
But one family's burden can be another's beloved companion, which is where her group comes in.
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup finely chopped dates
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup flaked coconut, divided
1 egg, lightly beaten
In a bowl, combine the walnuts, dates and brown sugar. Add 1/2 cup coconut and the egg. Mix well. Shape into 1 inch balls, roll in remaining coconut. Place on greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-13 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.