raPS has developed a sector-leading framework for sustainable, no-kill animal care
The “RAPS Model” of sustainable, community-supported, no-kill animal care rests on a holistic approach that incorporates shelters, sanctuaries, not-for-profit vet care, education, advocacy and social enterprise.
The foundational promise undergirding everything RAPS does is our no-kill ethos:
Under our care, no animal is ever euthanized due to lack of space, treatable illness, physical defect, age, or behavioural or socialization issues.
There is no definitive consensus on the meaning of the term “no-kill.” Every agency is free to define the term as they wish. A pivotal point of disagreement is the meaning of “healthy.” Almost all “no-kill” organizations will tell you they do not euthanize “healthy animals.” Their definition of “healthy,” however, can be extremely narrow. An animal with an easily treatable illness or injury, or a chronic condition like feline leukemia, may be defined as “unhealthy” and euthanized. Here is one area where RAPS is different: We do not euthanize unhealthy animals.
Our criteria for euthanasia align with the Government of Canada’s guidelines for medical assistance (MAID) in dying for humans. An animal must have a serious illness, disease or disability; be in an advanced state of decline that cannot be reversed; and be experiencing (or likely to soon experience) unbearable physical or mental suffering from illness, disease, disability or state of decline that cannot be relieved under conditions that are considered acceptable.
Saving the lives of animals is, of course, only the beginning of our work. Over the decades, thousands of animals have found their forever families through the adoption programs at our animal shelter. But, in a world where there are many healthy, well-socialized animals available for adoption, finding forever homes for animals with physical or behavioural challenges can be especially difficult.
This is why the RAPS Cat Sanctuary was founded, in 1999, and is now home to hundreds of mostly unadoptable cats, many or most of whom would have been euthanized in other jurisdictions or agencies. These cats live out their lives surrounded by all the love, affection and care they need and desire.
For other animals – mostly dogs – we have relied on our vast fostering network to help us prepare animals for the next phases of their lives. There are far fewer unhomed dogs in North America than there are unhomed cats. So we have always been able to accommodate all the animals that have come to us needing socialization or rehabilitation. But now we want to become a magnet for dogs that will help us massively reduce and, ideally, eliminate unnecessary euthanasia of dogs in Canada. We want to build a dedicated RAPS Dog Sanctuary!
In the meantime, our foster network goes above and beyond to provide care for difficult-to-adopt dogs. We have kept dogs for months, even years, until they were socialized or rehabilitated enough to go to a forever family home. Most animal organizations do not have the resources to invest this much time in a single animal. This is part of the RAPS difference! (Read one such story, about how Sunny took years to rehabilitate and is now in a loving forever home.)
In addition to shelters and sanctuaries, the RAPS difference includes our innovative use of social enterprise to provide secure funding for our programs and services. We began with a single RAPS Thrift Store, which has grown to a chain of three, with more outlets planned. The magnificence of this revenue-generating approach is that we are raising funds to save and improve the lives of animals while making the environment better by diverting tons and tons of solid materials annually from landfills – and providing incredibly affordable housewares, clothing and other items to people at all income levels.
In 2018, we opened the community-owned, not-for-profit RAPS Animal Hospital. This was a monumental undertaking that has allowed us to exponentially increase the number of animals whose lives we save and improve. We provide care for the animals at the RAPS Adoption and Education Centre, the RAPS Cat Sanctuary and in our fostering network. Then we open the doors to animals whose people want excellent, affordable veterinary care while knowing that their fees are reinvested to save and improve the lives of less fortunate animals.
The RAPS Animal Hospital has also allowed us to do more for our partner agencies across British Columbia. We have welcomed animals from throughout the province (and even further afield) from agencies that could not afford the vet care needed to save lives. In this way, we have prevented even more case of euthanasia.
Beyond all this, we have provided more than $3 million in partially or fully subsidized care to animals in households with low incomes or facing other challenges. We have B.C.’s only no-interest veterinary wellness payment plan so that no one is forced to make life-and-death decisions about their pets based on ability to pay.
We keep our no-kill promise by:
- Welcoming to our sanctuary cats with leukemia or feline AIDS, incontinent cats, cats that spray, unsocialized cats and those with other medical or behavioural issues.
- Allowing people to surrender their animals to us when circumstances no longer allow them to provide the necessities of life;
- Providing compassionate boarding for animals of people temporarily unable to care for them due to medical or other reasons;
- Providing access to affordable veterinary care for the public;
- Operating a Pet Food Bank;
- Advocating for the lives of animals individually and collectively;
- Advocating for families with animals who face discrimination in housing.
These are only some of the programs we run on behalf of the community.
And your support and patronage of the hospital, thrift stores, gift cards, online vet store – as well as your donations – really have a positive impact.