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Betty White Challenge proves golden for Tofino-Ucluelet animal shelter

Coastal Animal Rescue and Education Network nets $1.8K

The Coastal Animal Rescue and Education Network is celebrating an infusion of generousity spurred by the legacy of beloved Betty White.

The revered television star and venerable animal advocate passed away on Dec. 31, motivating her fans around the world to donate to their local animal shelters and the West Coast got in on the philanthropic party to the tune of $1,800 for CARE.

“It would have been her 100th birthday on Jan. 17 and everyone was encouraged to honour her life and her animal activism by making a donation to local animal rescue or shelter and boy did our community turn out,” CARE co-founder James Rodgers told the Westerly News. “It kind of caught us off-guard…We were really impressed with just how much compassion and generousity there is in our region here. We set a goal of $1,000 and certainly went past that.”

He added that the donations “couldn’t come at a better time” as CARE’s shelter is currently chock-full of animals in need.

“I think people may have an idea that there’s some provincial or federal pot of money out there for animal care; there isn’t. All the work that CARE has done here in the region, and this is our 10th year, has all been made possible because of the support of our communities, residents, visitors and businesses,” he said. “It really is a network of compassion that makes this happen.”

He suggested over 750 animals were nurtured by CARE’s compassion in 2020 and while 2021’s numbers are still being calculated, its roster of helped- companions is expected to heavily outweigh the prior year’s, highlighting the “dire need” for CARE’s shelter.

“There’s never been a better time to recognize the wonderful support of the community to make this shelter operation happen,” he said. “Even though it is still very rudimentary, it does serve a great purpose and it’s saving lives everyday.”

He said CARE has started off 2022 with its hands full as over 12 animals are currently available for adoption and more are coming in at a troubling pace.

“We’re just slammed dogs right now. It’s dog after dog after dog,” he said. “They’re literally coming in faster than we can keep up and there has never been a better example of why we need the local animal shelter here, there are not enough foster homes or enough adoption homes ready. Without the shelter, we just wouldn’t be able to keep up.”

He said there are a variety of reasons animals end up depending on CARE’s hospitality and each animal goes through an assessment process upon its arrival.

“One of the most troubling aspects of all this is that many of the dogs that come to us have some level of what we consider PTSD. We always say all the animals that come to us are like blooming flowers, every day they’re a little different, they’re adapting to a new situation and we’re getting to know their unique personalities,” he said, joking that it sometimes feels like operating a dating service.

“We take applications from people looking for animals to join their families and we get to know the animals and we see who’s a good match. We’re not talking about just putting people together for their first date and they take it from there, we’re looking at matching them for life, which is very challenging and it’s not always a match.”

The $1,800 raised through the Betty White infusion will go towards CARE’s spay and neuter fund, which is about to ramp up as kitten season is around the corner.

“There’s still so many feral cats or semi-socialized cats in our region, I’m talking easily hundreds in a handful of colonies. Year-round, we’re working on bringing these colony numbers down by trapping cats and kittens, socializing where possible and rehoming them,” Rodgers said. “We’re working steadily to bring the numbers down and that’s, of course, for the cats’ sakes because it’s a rough life out there, but it’s also for the health and safety of our communities. When these colonies get out of control in terms of population numbers, they become attractants for wildlife…And then you see this increase in human-wildlife conflicts.”

CARE is constantly adding to its network of local animal advocates and anyone interested in lending a hand is encouraged to visit its website at, which also includes information about adoptions as well as donations.

“Fundamentally, for me, it’s about, alleviating suffering wherever possible,” Rodgers said.

“It really takes a lot of people to make this happen and everyone has a different reason for helping out. At the end of the day, if everyone brings some time, some energy and their special skills, we can get it all done and that’s certainly what we’re seeing. We’ve got volunteers who come out to chop wood and fix things, we’ve got folks that walk dogs, people that have the hard job of cuddling kittens and puppies and we have some amazing volunteer drivers just constantly driving animals across the Island for vet visits or to be re-homed or to go to other organizations. It’s all these people doing their part as this network that really makes the whole thing work. We really couldn’t do it without everybody pulling together.”


READ MORE: Love for Betty White tallies nearly $500,000 for animal welfare groups in B.C.

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Andrew Bailey

About the Author: Andrew Bailey

I arrived at the Westerly News as a reporter and photographer in January 2012.
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