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Ideas abound for new WAG shelter



Whistler’s animal shelter could be so much more. There could be a dog run for the animals to get some excise. There could be a window in the cat room instead of four cramped walls.

And perhaps there could be enough room that no cat or dog need ever be turned away again.

"We think that if you involve us in the planning process... we have a lot of valuable input that we can bring to the table," said Whistler Animals Galore Board Secretary Linda McGaw in a presentation at Monday’s council meeting.

The municipality set aside $50,000 this year to find a site for the dog pound and design the new facility.

"We’re still trying to find a suitable site close to the village," said Diana Waltmann, information officer with the municipality.

Finding the site is proving to be a difficult task.

Ideally the shelter should be close to the village for the volunteers to get there. But it can’t be too close to a residential area in case the noise from the dogs disturbs neighbours.

A new facility cannot go up in the current site because the day skier parking lots are on a flood plain.

The search continues.

Another $400,000 has been set aside in 2004 to build a new animal shelter.

McGaw said the board has come up with innovative ways to improve the animal shelter. For example, perhaps WAG could partner with other animal groups like the J.J. Whistler Bear Society or the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dogs Association.

"This facility could be a golden opportunity to spread the education," said McGaw.

Six thousand people visit the WAG shelter every year. A bigger and better facility is sure to draw in more she said.

"The more people we draw in, the more likely the facility can pay for itself."

Other ideas for the new shelter are that it could be designed and built with animal behaviour in mind. Dr. David Lane explained that shelters are often built so that the animals sit in boxes and people peer into the only opening, essentially backing the animals into a corner.

A new shelter could be animal and people friendly.

Councillor Ken Melamed asked if there were any examples in the Lower Mainland of this type of state-of-the-art facility.

"WAG is already more advanced than the SPCA," said Lane, adding that WAG could be an example for the Lower Mainland rather than the other way around.

Meanwhile WAG and other concerned animal lovers have already begun their fundraising efforts for the new shelter.

All proceeds from the K9 Wine and Dine at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler on Sunday night will go towards the new shelter.

The dinner is for owners and dogs and even for people without dogs. Tickets are on sale at the Mallard Lounge in the Chateau. It is $25 for dogs and $30 for people.

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