District of Tofino recognizes Unger for CARE for animals

Lee-Anne Unger’s inspiring commitment to the West Coast’s animal population has earned her a district of Tofino volunteer recognition award.

Unger received the award in front of a standing-roomonly audience at Tofino’s Feb. 11 regular council meeting “Not only does Lee-Ann have a special bond with animals, she also has a knack for forming meaningful relationships with people with companion animals and pets,” said Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne. “Lee-Ann has spent countless hours pursuing her goal of bettering animals’ lives in the area, and she has built an amazing team of volunteers to work with her.”

Unger founded the Coastal Animal Rescue and Education Network (CARE) in 2011 and the network has assisted over 1,000 companion animals since then.

During the meeting, Osborne read a quote from one of the CARE volunteers who had nominated Unger for the award.

“Lee-Ann is one of the kindest and warmest people I have ever met. She has welcomed many volunteers into her home and helped people find a role they are comfortable within the network, She inspires us to do more, to never give up, and to fight for what is fair and right. She is always looking for ways to better herself by learning new skills, and always invites us along.”

Unger told the Westerly News she was both surprised and honoured by the award and was quick to share the accolades.

“I want to say first and foremost that although I received this recognition and I am truly honoured to have received it, it takes a team to do what we do,” she said. “I couldn’t do the work I do and the work that the CARE network accomplishes without this team of highly dedicated animal lovers.”

Anyone interested in joining this dedicated team of locals is encouraged to contact the CARE network at 250 266 9663.

Unger said volunteer opportunities abound from joining the network’s emergency response team to fostering or transporting animals.

She said CARE’s efforts are currently focused on raising support for the West Coast reduced cost spay and neuter fund.

“A very important part of our work is reducing overpopulation of companion animal and working with people to overcome any obstacles to spay and neuter services,” Unger said.

Locals interested in contributing to this fund can contact the CARE network or the Port Alberni SPCA at 250-723-5269.

Anyone who donates through the SPCA should specify their donation is for the West Coast fund, according to Unger.

Unger is the third recipient of Tofino’s volunteer recognition award, which the district established last year to recognize its local heroes.

She said the West Coast is full of dedicated locals who volunteer their time to a variety of causes and added that the recognition is a great way to inspire other locals to get involved.

“It does take a lot of time and energy and passion but, my gosh, it’s incredibly rewarding at the same time,” she said. “Being recognized for one’s hard work is a wonderful thing, it feels great, it’s very heartwarming and truly appreciated.” reporter@westerlynews.ca