Bow Valley Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

we serve these populations

  • animal welfare

Blake, a shepherd cross, was found wandering near the highway in Kananaskis Country by a Park Ranger. He was limping, his hair was matted, and he was extremely skinny. When the Ranger called he came immediately, though slowly because of his limp.

The Park Ranger brought him to the Bow Valley SPCA, and in turn we immediately took him to the local veterinarian for a diagnosis. It turned out that Blake was about one year old, had probably been wandering for about a month with no food, and had a severely broken hip joint.

The local veterinarian said that he could not repair the injury to Blake’s hip because the severity of the break and its proximity to the hip joint. However, the hip joint could be repaired if we took Blake to an orthopaedic surgeon in Calgary. The alternative was to amputate the leg.

Our veterinarian presented these alternatives to the board of directors. He could amputate Blake’s leg for about $200 or we could spend $5,000 to have his hip repaired.

Our organization was less than one year old at the time and we had no contingencies for exceptional veterinary costs. We had established our organization as a no kill, and no cage adoption center, but until this “moment of truth” we had not considered the implications of those values and promises. The decision about Blake, made us confront ourselves about those values.

The choice was between saving money with the result being a one year old, three legged dog, versus spending money we did not have with the result being a young healthy, four-legged dog.

We decided that quality of life was more important than saving money and that we would find a way to manage the costs.  This choice has informed our all of our subsequent decision making with regard to health.  In essence, we want the best health care possible for dogs and cats in our care and treat them as if they are members of our family.

Blake showed us what it really means to be a no cage, no kill shelter.

As it turns out, we made a very wise investment. Blake went on to become a certified avalanche rescue dog. He even served at the Para-Olympics in British Columbia. Now retired, Blake still comes to the Bow Valley SPCA on a regular basis to work with the dogs that need a calm canine friend.

Blake has taught us what is means to “Pay it forward”.

The Carla Cumming Sojonky Adoption Centre, home of the Bow Valley SPCA, is Canada’s first no kill, no cage adoption centre. For more than 10 years we have provided the best possible care for abandoned dogs and cats in the Bow Valley. Each animal in our care lives in a room, is treated as an individual, and is kept until matched to its “forever family”. Our costs are higher, but so is our “save rate” which is over 98%.

Our No Kill, No Cage Philosophy

Our animals are housed in rooms (not kennels or cages) and we are committed to keeping and caring for every one of these dogs and cats until they find their forever family. Adoption is our goal, but in cases where finding a match is difficult, we are committed to keeping the dog or cat in our care until there is a match.  As a no kill adoption center, we are committed to training and rehabilitating all of our residents until they can be successfully adopted and, if necessary, to provide a lifetime sanctuary for dogs or cats that cannot be adopted. The quality of life, while the dogs and cats are being rehabilitated is a critical issue. The “no cage” concept is an essential part of the emphasis we put on our residents having the highest quality of life possible—and we know it works.

Our Facility – The Carla Cumming Adoption Centre 

Named in honor of Frank Sojonky’s wife, the Carla Cumming Sojonky Adoption Centre is a 3,500 square foot building with a large off-leash park, wooded walking trails, and a secure fence line. The Centre opened in June 2007 and was recognized by Natural Resources Canada as energy efficient in design. Green buildings are of higher quality, last longer, and cost less to operate; the long-term financial savings are significant, especially for a non-profit organization where every dollar matters. We are proud that our building is a home that respects the health and well being of both its occupants and the environment, while creating an excellent model for future adoption centres across the country.

Since 2007, we have: 

  • Saved over 2000 dogs and cats, with our save rates being 99% for dogs and 98% for cats.
  • Matched 99% of our animals with forever homes. 
  • Helped re-home dogs and cats from surrounding adoption centres, which has strengthened relationships between other rescue organizations and moving us towards a no-kill nation.
  • Provided a low-cost spay/neuter program to support low-income families in the Bow Valley.
  • Provided educational outreach emphasizing responsible pet ownership and the importance of neutering pets which has reached hundreds of school children and adults.
  • Sponsored a number of fundraising events that have enjoyed broad and consistent community support.
  • Partnered with other community groups such as Wild Smart, Pats for Pets, First Responders, and several local businesses to promote animal welfare.

The Bow Valley SPCA provides spay/neuter procedures for a small donation (or free in some cases) to qualified families in the Bow Valley, surrender services if a pet owner can no longer keep the animal and a lost and found program in the community.

Animal Training

We are currently focusing on  improving our training for dogs and cats with complex behavioural issues–something we and other shelters are seeing more and more of. Our objective is to reduce the time dogs and cats are in our adoption centre and get them into their forever homes as quickly as possible.  This will reduce the stress even a no cage environment creates, and will allow us to accept and re-home more dogs and cats on an annual basis.

Humane Education

  • Outreach to elementary schools in the Bow Valley teaching pet responsibility and humane treatment of animals
  • Teaching youth volunteers to model and teach pet responsibility and humane treatment of animals
  • Low cost young dog socialization classes
  • Training for families with difficult pets
  • Affordable spay/neuter programs for low income families in the Bow Valley
  • Educational seminars including first aid for pets, pet nutrition, medicating your pet, the importance of socialization, and safe pet handling

Seminars and Workshops

  • Out educational seminars for individuals and rescue groups are designed for adults and use an adult education model.  We cover a variety of topics from pet first aid to teaching “brain games” for dog owners.

$25 provides shelter, food, meds and loving care for one dog or one cat for one day.  Help us, help them, every day of the year. 

The fees we charge for surrender and adoption cover less than 15% of our operational costs.  The remainder comes from donations, grants and fundraising events.

DONATE: We need operational funding. Operating a no kill and no cage adoption centre is expensive, and this is likely part of the reason we are the only one in Canada. We have a very low overhead because our centre was designed to be efficient and has been designated as such by Natural Resources Canada.  This means that nearly 90% of donations we receive go to direct care of the animals.

Other ways to donate:

VOLUNTEER: Volunteer time provides the equivilent of 5 full time employees.  Our staff are committed to the highest level of care and work on training and re-habilitation on a daily basis. We need the following types of volunteers:

  • Fundraisers
  • Special events & planning
  • Kitty Care
  • Dog Walkers
  • Groomers
  • Animal Trainers
  • Dog Behaviour Assessors

Contact us at [email protected] for more information.

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Contact Info

Bow Valley Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Meghan Keelan, Adoption Centre Manager



More Info

Charity Number: #867338527RR0001

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