regional animal protection society

Our Story

The Regional Animal Protection Society has grown over a quarter-century from a tiny handful of deeply devoted volunteers into one of Canada’s largest and most innovative animal-serving organizations.

At the heart of everything we do is our no-kill promise:

Under our care, no animal is ever euthanized due to lack of space, treatable illness, physical defect, age, behavioural or socialization issues.





In the 1980s, volunteers discovered an overwhelming number of feral cats in Richmond. These cats and kittens had not been spayed or neutered, had not received veterinary care or the basic necessities of life. They would have been euthanized if they were taken to any of the municipal shelters in the Metro Vancouver area.

In 1995, Richmond Homeless Cats Society was incorporated and the organization’s rapid expansion began. Volunteers tirelessly attended to more than 40 feeding stations daily. These volunteers trapped, spayed/neutered and then released feral cats. This process (TNR) helps prevent exponential growth of feral populations, but does not entirely address the larger issues of feline homelessness or impacts on birds, small mammals and the entire ecosystem.

Since the Sanctuary did not yet exist, cats that were tame or became socialized were often fostered in private homes

The RAPS Cat Sanctuary opened in 1999 and has never stopped growing. It has become one of the largest cat sanctuaries in North America and has been recognized for excellence in animal care. Sanctuaries – different from shelters – are intended as a permanent home for animals who are unlikely to be adopted. This is critical to our no-kill promise, because keeping our promise requires us to home every animal who comes to us.

In 2005, the society’s name was changed to Richmond Animal Protection Society when the decision was made to extend care to all of Richmond’s animals. RAPS was awarded the City of Richmond Animal Shelter contract in 2007, and introduced a no-kill policy to the City Shelter. After lobbying by RAPS, Richmond became the first municipality to legally require spaying and neutering for cats, and to ban the sale of puppies and dogs in pet stores. RAPS continued to run the City Shelter until early 2021, when we opened our new RAPS Adoption and Education Centre.

In 2017, the name was changed to the Regional Animal Protection Society, which better reflects the geographic diversity of the people and animals we serve.

In 2018, the RAPS Animal Hospital opened – Metro Vancouver’s only community-owned, not-for-profit veterinary facility serving the general public as well as the animals in our care.

Social enterprise and innovation has been at the heart of RAPS’ growth. Preceding the social enterprise vet hospital, RAPS has operated a chain of RAPS Thrift Stores, which generate a significant portion of our annual revenues, while diverting tons of goods annually from landfills.

There is much, much more to the RAPS story – and this story has only begun. Everything we have accomplished has been possible because of the generosity of thousands of supporters, community partners, corporate allies, donors and, especially, hundreds of volunteers who allow us to deliver individualized care to thousands of animals ever year.

As RAPS catapults into a second quarter-century of saving and improving the lives of animals, we would like you to be part of our story.

There are so many ways to get involved. Click below to join us in this world-changing work!

Sanctuary resident “Chai” (above), photo by Karen Nicholson, “Blossom” (below), photo by Michele Wright, Furry Friends Photography