beaver creek farm sanctuary volunteer

Town of Fort Erie… are blue skies possible?

Beaver Creek Farm Sanctuary is currently in a battle for its life. The very existence of our registered charity animal rescue is in the hands of the Fort Erie Town Council. Only the council can change the bylaws that will allow us to exist in Fort Erie.

The bylaws were last reviewed and approved in 2001. They are antiquated and in no way reflect the new trend of respect  that society is giving to animals.

We run BCFS like a business, because without a business plan we are doomed for failure, but we run it with compassion, understanding and with one simple goal: Help Animals.

Town of Fort Erie and BCFS

We’ve been told our goal is too simple and it will never work.  People harbour too much apathy,  but we are standing by mantra: Help Animals. When we need to make a decision we ask ourselves: Will our actions help animals?

On May 21, 2015 we achieved step one of our goal to help animals by welcoming two of the Town of Fort Erie Council members to visit Beaver Creek Farm Sanctuary . They came out to see the sanctuary, meet the animals and meet me, the founder — so motivated to help animals that a new charity was created.

kitchen crowd at volunteer meetup

Chris arrived first and as we stood in the kitchen chatting, Marina pulled in with a friend. I looked cautiously at Chris and asked “who’s that” gesturing towards my front walk.

Chris told me her name and said that she sits on  the board for the Fort Erie SPCA.  My heart rate accelerated. Really?

I greeted our guests and took them on a tour of the farm. Marina was captivated by the stories and the animals – maybe there was hope?

The SPCA rep told me that they never questioned the quality of care given to the animals at BCFS.  I also learned that the SPCA enforcement is  predominately complaint driven, which means there are people in Fort Erie who don’t support BCFS as an animal rescue.

We understand that folks might not support our style of rescue, which is why we’re grateful people have the opportunity to choose a different flavour of rescue that still helps animals.

Those who complain about BCFS feel we are doing something so wrong that they call the Fort Erie SPCA, lodge a complaint giving ammunition to those that would see us shut down — not helping animals.

beaver creek farm sanctuary volunteer

Why? What have we done that is so wrong? We help animals. Is that not a noble cause? We put ourselves out there, open our home and and welcome all those who care about animals. Have you visited my home and then called the humane society?

What was your complaint?

Are my horses too shiny? Are my pigs too happy? Does Donkey the bunny’s joyful binkies offend you? Do the dogs have too much room to run and play in fresh cut grass? Is the water too clean and the food too plentiful?

snow bunny rabbit

Does our extensive adoption program offend you? Is it because we adhere to a strict spay and neuter program to help reduce the number of unwanted animals?

Is it that we have made large food donations to other rescues and SPCAs? Including the Fort Erie SPCA when we had a food donation so generous that we wanted to share, because helping animals should not be limited to our own hands. It takes a village to help animals. Are we not wanted in this village?

volunteer meetup event jan 2015

Horse care is part of work on the Farm

The four of us made our way into the house and sat around the old oak table for the meeting. I rubbed my hand over the polished wood as its smooth surface gave me comfort, familiarity and confidence. This old house supports me.

I sit alone in my kitchen at my favourite table to face two councillors and a representative from the SPCA. Why alone? Because I want this to be an open discussion and not a war. Because inviting more people might seem intimidating. I was wrong. I was foolish. My nativity got the better of me.

The SPCA representative opened a spiral note book and started going through my website post: The Saga of the Town of Fort Erie.

truffles adopted pot-bellied pig

Her first comment was about money. She thought it was absurd that $125 was considered a lot of money.  She stared at me and said “really?”

I said: Yes. $125 is a lot of money for an animal rescue. Its a vet bill,  food and medicine. We are frugal with our donations wishing them  all go to the animals. We take no salary and offer no monetary reward to our volunteers. BCFS is a 100% volunteer based registered charity animal rescue.

Meetup_Gayle_Turtle_3794

Not to be stymied she moved on to my comment that the kennels at the Fort Erie SPCA are cold. No, not cold – very cold.

I explained that there are studies published regarding kennel stress and how it makes dogs appear unadoptable. These animals deemed unadoptable have two options: euthanasia or rehabilitation with a rescue organization.  BCFS has worked with SPCA affiliated  organizations (LCHS, Toronto Animal Services, Niagara Fall HS and Erie County SPCA) to save dogs from euthanasia. We try to reserve a spot at the farm for these time sensitive cases – that spot is currently unavailable as we are unable to renew our Foster Rescue Dog Licence under the current bylaws, and therefore, cannot have any rescue dogs on our property.

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The discussion got heated. I explained that the new wave of animal rescue is a foster home based system where the dogs are housed with families that can give them one on one care and training. I didn’t get a chance to mention our use of alternative medicine before the SPCA representative got up and left the meeting.

Meetup_barn_P1190572

In my mind this meeting was suppose to be a positive step forward and now I felt blindsided and unprepared. Had I known the SPCA was going to be at this meeting I would have invited a physical presence of BCFS support.

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I was recklessly hoping by keeping this meeting between myself and council we could have an open forum to write a bylaw that encouraged animal rescue with provisions for Registered Charity Animal Rescues and foster homes that is not only up to the date, but would be considered progressive.

Frustration was setting in and you can imagine my shock when Chris and Marina agreed the new bylaw should be progressive. The clouds parted to let a little sunlight into a dark kitchen giving me a glimpse of blue sky. Hope.

Harriette

These new council members took time to meet a  constituent  to help us, or as Chris puts it “let us help you, help the animals”.  All three of us sitting at the worn oak table work full time  and in our free time we do our best to improve our community.

Thank you Chris and Marina for your open minds working towards a common goal that will change the way people in our town view animals. Education is in our mission statement and the first step to change always starts at home.

snow bunny day in the sun

There are details to be worked out and BCFS is hoping to be invited to sit on a committee that will create a new Responsible Companion Animal Bylaw that makes sense for the town by  helping animals and the people who care for them.

The proposed bylaw change will take months and will not take effect until late summer or early fall of 2015, so my hands are tied for the next couple months as the paperwork from the last SPCA visit on May 14, 2015 states my Foster Rescue dog license under the current bylaws would not be renewed.

mandy happy tail lebanon viszla

I asked Chris and Marina if there was anything they could do that would allow me to continue rescuing animals until the bylaws are changed?

I offered to pay the $125 to get my Foster Rescue Dog Licence reinstated, so I can rescue two dogs at a time at Beaver Creek Farm Sanctuary. My gut says they should offer me exemption until the bylaw comes into effect, but red tape is excellent bondage material.

adoptable alpaca

I’m still uncertain what will happen if I can’t get the alpaca out of Fort Erie by May 26th. I might end up fined and in court if council isn’t able to convince the powers that be to waive these charges during the time of change.

adoptable shih tzu Bailey

Until the new bylaws are written and passed by council BCFS is in a very vulnerable position. We’re  at the mercy of the antiquated bylaws, angry citizens and the Fort Erie SPCA.

2014 year end

This isn’t quite what I had in mind when I began fighting for animal rights, but I’m hoping to make a positive impact for the future of helping animals.

 

27 thoughts on “Town of Fort Erie… are blue skies possible?”

  1. Wow! Very well written! Thank you for all that you do for these less fortunate abused animals. I feel that whomever put in a complaint about what you do at BCFS should be ashamed of themselves. Frankly……get a life! Keep fighting for the animals. You deserve an award not a hassle!

  2. Keeping my fingers crossed! Amy you are an awesome person and thank you for everything that you do for all the animals out there!

  3. I’m so sorry to hear about the nightmare you are having with the town and SPCA. You deserve a medal for what you are doing to help animals not all this grief. Let’s hope Marina can help with the town and the SPCA. She’s a good person.

  4. I have had the pleasure to adopt as well as foster for BCFS. Amy and Brent are the true heroes for many animals. Without BCFS many animals wouldn’t be given a second chance. I don’t understand for the life of me why the FT Erie SPCA is choosing to bully this wonderful organization. Stay strong and hold your heads high! You have an army of support behind you!

  5. YESSSSSS! I see a silver lining peeking through. I am thrilled that Chris and Marina took the time to meet you and the lovely residents of BCFS personally. The SPCA is probably ashamed of how they treat animals, jealous and hopefully will make some changes in their own way of “caring” for these lovely creatures.
    Maybe the alpacas can go to Ellicottville for awhile. Or is there still a farm in Chambers Corners that raises them?
    Best wishes Amy, Brent and all the wonderful supporters of BCFS!

  6. Amy I am so proud of you for the work you do to rescue animals. You are my hero! I think it is very short-sighted of the Town of Fort Erie to keep with their antiquated by-laws. They should be changed. I wish you the best of luck my friend. Keep the faith .

  7. Lots of strength for your ongoing battle! There are many people who appreciate all the hard work you and the BCFS volunteers do for unwanted and neglected animals . Bravo!

  8. I had the pleasure along with my two children to meet Amy & Judith as well as the residents of BC FS. We were welcomed with open arms and shown all around. I was astounded by the amazing things they are doing and their genuine love for all the animals who stay or pass through their doors! This charity is a blessing and I find it so sad to hear they are receiving all of these hassles instead of the support they so deserve!! The Fort Erie SPCA should be ashamed of themselves !! It’s supposed to be about the animals and by their actions is quite apparent that is not what they are about! I pray the outcome is extremely positive for BCFS !! God Bless all that are apart of this extraordinary place!!!!

  9. Amy, this to shall pass and CHANGE is gonna come to the Town of Fort Erie. I believe all will be well and BCFS will prevail! SPCA Fort Erie should be ashamed of themselves for the steps they have taken against BCFS. I hope when all is said and done that they will see the error of their ways. I also believe this is why the officer in attendance from the SPCA, abruptly got up and left because he/she realizes the ridiculousness of their charges against BCFS and were rendered speechless, and could not contribute anything productive to the conversation that you could not dispute or defend. It’s times like these that you realize who your supporters are. It’s time for the people of Fort Erie and powers that be to rise up and support a cause that is very much needed and wanted! Help the Animals! BCFS provides that! BCFS provides what SPCA can’t provide. You would think that they would support such a cause that sets precedence in the town of Fort Erie!
    I personally, am proud of all you have done! Your leadership, your dedication to all animals in need and the way you have conducted BCFS! I am proud to be affiliated with BCFS and all its passionate volunteers and I am proud to call you my friend!
    CHANGE IS COMING TO FORT ERIE!

  10. Fort Erie is sooo fortunate to have people like you !!!! The outcome will be positive because it makes “common sense” that what you are doing is an asset & not a liability…… Town Council & the SPCA are there to make FE a better place & I am confident they will do the right thing…… THANKS for all you do …. you are indeed the animals “Guardian Angels”….. keep up your excellent work !!!

  11. A rescue is not a life style. It’s not a hobby or a passing fad. You love it, You live it, You breathe it 24/7. . Hoping for a positive change in Fort Erie !

  12. I will be making a small donation to help out. I would encourage every business and citizen to follow suit. $5.00 – $10.00 will go a long way if we can get 100 people and business to donate. You are doing a great job for these animals and our community. I have faith in our new council to get the necessary bylaws changed to allow you great work to continue. I will also be contacting the councilors to voice my support of these changes.

  13. I read your post after seeing it on the Fort Erie Hi-Lites Facebook page. I rescued racehorses for many years and am involved in large animal safety. I know how difficult it is to run a rescue, especially a good one. From everything I’ve heard, yours qualifies as good.
    I’ve been into the animal shelter in Fort Erie, and it is a dreary dismal, unhappy and uncomfortable place. I’m well aware that the atmosphere of the shelter has a vital role in getting animals adopted. People aren’t attracted to depressed animals, but smiling happy animals will find homes much more quickly. Running a shelter can be a very frustrating, disheartening, emotionally killing job if your local government does not support you. I’ve seen this time and again. There is a lot of recent information available online about compassion fatigue. Perhaps the person running Fort Erie’s shelter has been beaten down over time and is suffering from PTSD. If everyone works together — as you say, becomes a village around this issue — that might change. But the change has to START at the government level.
    Hopefully, Fort Erie’s animal policies will be updated to make it easier for decent rescues to thrive. There is no shortage of needy animals in the area. Hopefully, also, the issue of bully breeds in Ontario will also be resolved. How draconian. How outdated. How WRONG.
    Good luck in resolving your issues with the city.

  14. The spca should be ashamed of themselves.
    my friend recently told me he called his MP in St Catharines to finally do something about the LCHS.
    do you know how they put down animals?
    they still feed them tainted meat.
    what a painful death!!!!
    when told that they would not receive 500,000.00 from the city if they didn’t allow volunteers to sit on their non profit board, Kevin strooband simply replied “fine….I won’t run a pick up service then”
    How can they not be charged for the poisonings?
    Anybody else would be…
    spca should go after them….
    and not a worthwhile much needed service that you provide….Compassion……

  15. The fact that the SPCA rep got up and left is proof that they don’t care about anything you are doing and only want to come after you with enforcement.

  16. I was saddened to read the well written article on Beaver Creek. We were there last year, to tour your place and it is a wonderful animal rescue and sanctuary. What the Fort Erie SPCA’s problem is I don’t know. It is time that the town of Fort Erie and the SPCA come into the modern world of animal rescue and fostering. This is a more humane way for the animals to live. If one adopts a pet from the SPCA you get to take it home, not knowing for sure how well trained they are, their behaviours etc with Beaver Creek, the animals get a chance to live in a normal environment with fostering until they get their forever home. This would be like someone who has been in prison for example and then once released has to adjust to the new outside world, difficult for them just as it is for the animals from the SPCA. I fully support Beaver Creek in all that they do and their licenses for fostering and whatever else they need should be reinstated and let this lovely lady continue on with her wonderful efforts that she is putting forth. It is time Fort Erie came into the 21st Century before it is too late. I am relatively new to Fort Erie, but if this is the way they are going to operate I highly doubt I will vote in any of the elections. The only two councillors who may get my vote are the ones who actually went out to see this place and i will not give to the F.E. SPCA. I will also pass this information on to some very well respected people in the animal rescue world and let them know about the town of Fort Erie, bad word of mouth or press is probably not what the town wants. Again, Beaver Creek as my full support in all their efforts. Would like to be kept up to date on the events.

  17. I am having difficulty understanding the position of those at the Fort Erie SPCA. I am a long time supporter of the SPCA and the work they do, and understand the challenges they face…
    They need money and volunteers…but who doesn’t.
    What clearly makes no sense is that your rescue facilitates animals that the FE SPCA has no ability to help, the Sanctuary Farm is an appropriately zoned agricultural area for alpaca, etc. and that many SPCA/Humane societies promote adoption of fostered dogs .
    Furthermore…we are in an area, trying to keep an equine based business viable…….
    Please tell me what I can do to keep your Sanctuary process intact and thriving.
    We have always needed this kind of facility, with it’s family orientation and educational events.

  18. I enjoyed the update, yet was appalled by the reaction of the SPCA rep(who was probably paid well for her childish reaction). I don t understand why is is so threatened by you , probably because she knows that you are actually helping animals.
    I m also happy to see that 2 of the Council actually are trying to help. Bravo!!! I will certainly be contacting my councillor Stephen , to suggest that he support you as well
    Keep watching that twinkle of sunshine in those blue skies. God bless you

  19. Amy, unfortunately I have had first hand experience when dealing with the FESPCA. The attitudes of the individuals who work there, are not that of accountability. They should be ashamed, they should also drop their egos and allow you to do what is right. And what is right, is what is best for the animals.
    The FESPCA really needs to revisit and maybe revise their mission statement.
    I will gladly help you out, and support you in anyway I possibly can, so that you may continue on doing what you are doing.
    The world could use more people like yourself and your vulunteers.

  20. I have forwarded both articles to Councillor Lubberts. I hope others will also keep their Councillor updated so support will come from full Council and Mayor.

  21. God bless you for the loving, caring work you are doing to help God’s creatures who are unable to help themselves!
    Have faith, keep doing what you’re doing, and should you need your community to help you, we will support you. I promise to do my best to help gather the loudest, most driven animal lovers I know and we’ll make some noise!
    I’m a foster mom and know how important it is to help the helpless!!

  22. I think the work you do is wonderful and should be applauded. Is it possible that the FESPCA may feel that it’s office would close if your organization became a viable option? The rest of the duties handled by their office could probably be divided between Niagara and Welland and their facility would become redundant. The Police are centralizing their staff to save costs; I am sure the OSPCA may be considering the same thing. Keep up the good work and I hope things go your way with the council.

  23. I have seen the kind of meddling an SPCA can do. The LCHS has been charged by the public with illegally stacking a board and bullying livestock farmers and hunters. They have shown behaviour that suggests they support making hunting and meat illegal. If this sounds like you I won’t help. The words “animal rights” are a red flag for me. However with that said the FESPCA has a history of being level headed when others were not like the case here in Fort Erie when the Niagara Falls SPCA refused to adopt out 2 large breed dogs to a lady because they were going to stay in the barn with the other animals. The FESPCA supported the adoption as the barn was heated and there was no cause for concern. Our rabbit plays outside when it’s -20 despite being able to take shelter in his hutch. The 2 NF reps lost their jobs due to public backlash. The FESPCA has to be careful here because every decision they make has to be sound as they are kind of in a conflict of interest ruling over a competitor. Any decisions that look like bullying will cause the same kind of backlash. I’d really like to see a statement from their office right now explaining how they have made decisions on this case.

  24. I would just like to add that I am not willing to add to the line of people saying “shame on the FESPCA. The people working there are good people who care deeply about animals. I would never condemn an animal welfare organization based on the competitions hearsay without talking directly to the other side so I have both sides of the story.
    I have here 2 links for you to read. The first is recent and its about someone who deeply cared about the people he worked with only to be accused of racism and then condemned online sort of what’s going on here. He killed himself.
    The second is an older article reminding us of how heartless and strictly business our SPCA officers are.
    http://www.haaretz.com/news/israel/.premium-1.657911

    http://eedition.forterietimes.ca/doc/Fort-Erie-Times/fort-erie-times-november-24/2012112301/11.html#10

    I commend you for your love of animals and your desire to help. Kudo’s and I hope things work out and you are allowed to continue your operations. If anything you have raised a lot of good questions. Now all we need are answers.

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