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What do dozens of cats and kittens have to do with Giving Tuesday?

For the people of the Regional Animal Protection Society, this springtime has held a few surprises.

Of course, for everyone around the world, this has not been our usual spring, to put it mildly. We are all — individuals, families, businesses, nonprofits, everyone — facing an unprecedented time as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For nonprofit organizations, like businesses, it means decreased revenues. That’s why Giving Tuesday, which is an annual day set aside between U.S. Thanksgiving and the December holidays to encourage charitable giving, has been moved to May 5. It was a recognition that many organizations can’t wait until the end of the year. They need help now.

In the particular case of RAPS, we were forced to indefinitely close the RAPS Thrift Stores, which are an important source of revenue for the organization, as well as closing the RAPS Cat Sanctuary and the RAPS Animal Shelter to the public. (The Shelter is, of course, available for emergencies and is continuing to provide care for all the animals!) The RAPS Animal Hospital remains open, with extraordinary protocols in place to minimize human to human contact.

Get full details about RAPS’ response to COVID-19 here.

But Mother Nature doesn’t care about organizational budgets and revenues. Springtime is a season of rebirth — and for RAPS this month, that meant an incredible influx of kittens, pregnant mamas and other cats. In the first days of April, we rescued 30 adult cats and 20 kittens from a situation in Richmond where a well-intentioned individual was feeding neighbourhood cats but things got out of control. Several of the cats were pregnant when we rescued them and so the numbers are now at 60 and destined to grow.

We estimate that the veterinary services and general needs of each of these animals will cost approximately $1000 each, including initial exams, spaying and neutering, SNAP tests for FiV (feline AIDS) and leukemia, as well as all the general care, food and treatment growing kitties need. That adds up to a lot of money at a time when we, as an organization, are faced with the challenges of our time.

At the same time, this rescue operation really puts into focus and perspective the work we do.

The Regional Animal Protection Society was founded 25 years ago (as Richmond Homeless Cats Society), by a tiny group of incredibly dedicated individuals who humanely trapped and spayed or neutered feral cats in Richmond. As a result of these decades of dedication, Richmond has almost no feral cats. By contrast, it is estimated that the neighbouring community of Surrey has tens of thousands of feral cats.

So, rescuing 50 cats, and their inevitable new litters, really brings us full circle.

While RAPS has grown into one of Canada’s largest and most innovative no-kill animal organizations, we have never wavered from our commitment to provide individualized care to every animal. We can do this because of hundreds of volunteers who allow us to create small miracles on small budgets. (Here’s a sweet story about just one!) The very same sort of care that we gave to orphaned kittens, new mamas and every other animal 25 years ago is being replicated in foster homes across our community today as we prepare these dozens of cats and kittens (and still counting!) for their forever homes!

This is in addition to all the “usual” programs and services we deliver.

But it’s a challenge. Everything we do is possible because of the support of animal-loving people in our community. This has never been more true than it is today.

On Giving Tuesday, we are asking you to consider how you can give to help us save and improve the lives of even more animals.

But we also want to remind you that RAPS helps animals … and their people! Animals make our lives, families, neighbourhoods and communities safer, healthier and happier. So by supporting animals through RAPS, you are building a stronger community.

More specifically, RAPS has always provided direct assistance to companion animals in households with low incomes or facing other challenges. Since opening the RAPS Animal Hospital just over two years ago, we have been able to expand that help exponentially. So far, we have provided more than $1.2 million in partially or fully subsidized veterinary care to households in our community. We expect that to grow to $2 million this year.

We also have a Pet Food Bank so that no one has to choose between feeding their pet or feeding themselves.

All of this is the very essence of Giving Tuesday. We can do all this for animals and people in our community because we have the support of so many kind and generous people in our community. It is the very embodiment of the spirit of both Giving Tuesday and the global commitment in this time of pandemic to stay apart physically while coming together in spirit to save humankind, especially the most vulnerable.

If you are considering a philanthropic donation this Giving Tuesday, we hope that you will consider RAPS.


Of course, many people are not in a position to donate right now. If you are … that means your gift is more important than ever.

If you are not in a position to support RAPS financially right now, there are lots of other ways to help – and most cost nothing!

Here are some ways:

  • Volunteer! It’s true that due to social distancing, we are not training new volunteers right now and only experienced volunteers are on site at our facilities. But when things get back to comparative normal, our animals (and thrift store customers and other people who depend on RAPS) will be back to a new normal, we know, and needing all the services RAPS has delivered in the good times. Consider filling out an application now for volunteering later!
  • Choose the RAPS Animal Hospital! This is among the easiest, most powerful things you can do. If you have a pet, veterinary bills are an unavoidable reality. By choosing the not-for-profit, community-owned RAPS Animal Hospital, all revenues from your veterinary expenses are reinvested in RAPS programs to save and improve the lives of animals.
  • Recommend the RAPS Animal Hospital! Even easier! Maybe you don’t have a pet, or maybe you are already a client. By recommending us to your friends, you are making another powerful gesture in support of animals in our community.
  • Order your pet food and supplies online at RAPS! We now offer online purchase of pet food and supplies. Order online for home delivery!
  • Support the RAPS Thrift Stores! Again, the stores are closed right now. But a lot of people are doing spring cleaning and household renovations during this time. If you are able to store your treasures until we are ready to reopen, it would mean a lot to us! And, when we do reopen, you’re not going to believe the awesome (nearly) new stuff we’re going to have at our everyday crazy-low prices.
  • Magnify RAPS’ voice by sharing our messages with your circles of influence. It’s easy — but it’s important. Between now and next Tuesday, would you commit to sharing five or 10 of our social media posts? It’s a really easy way to give — and help us save and improve the lives of animals.

There are lots more ways to give, including matching gifts (your employer might double your gift!) and leaving a legacy to help the animals. To see all the ways you can help, click here.

Thanking our volunteers, supporters, donors, partners. Long time volunteers who know the names, characteristics, and stories of all the cats at the Sanctuary; volunteers who have made helping out at the Shelter into their daily/weekly routines and are now watching the kitty live cam to try and get their fix in, making do during the pandemic; monthly donors who have donated for years and years, kids, youth, and school groups/clubs who donate and/or fundraise every year on their birthday without fail; and our more recent donors who stepped up in response to the 50+ cats/kitty situation. We also have donors who (before the pandemic), would come into the Shelter every week at the same time to drop off physical donations. Also tons of older retired folks who donate their time at our Thrift Stores (now closed), helping with sales, processing donations, keeping the stores tidy.

Like never before, we realize that all of us, worldwide, are in this together. This Giving Tuesday, let’s make a statement. In whatever way each of us can, let’s step up and help the people and animals around us.

Thank you!