Penny Stone remembers vividly the day she helped rescue dozens of sled dogs from a facility in Whistler.
“It was so traumatic. Most of them were chained. Some of them were terrified of us. They didn’t know if we were there to hurt them,” Stone said. “You saw these dogs that saw horrific things and not just the cull of 2010 that everyone knows about . . . some of them would bark and run away and others would be submissive.”
After learning about the cull of 56 sled dogs in Whistler following the Winter Olympics in 2010, Stone jumped into action. The former B.C. SPCA worker made several trips to help find homes for the dogs who had been severely mistreated.
For Stone, it was a life-changing trip that helped open her eyes to how she could help animals.
“These dogs knew nothing about being a dog except for being on a chain or being in a pen and every once in a while going out for a run,” she said, adding she adopted a now 16-year-old sled dog. “Bringing them into new homes and having them become part of your family — it was a huge thing.”
After she got back and helped find the dogs homes, other residents called Stone to take in their pets — and the Victoria Humane Society (VHS) was born.
This year, the society is celebrating its third anniversary of rescuing, rehabilitating and finding homes for more than 700 animals from remote and First Nations communities on the Island.
Many animals — ranging from dogs and cats to rodents and pigs — who have never seen a veterinarian are given shots and treated.
Daisy Jassar has been a volunteer board member with the society since its inception.
“(The society) is taking on the harder cases that other organizations are not able to take. Not all organizations can take in the dogs that need the $1,200-surgeries,” Jassar said. “For me, that gap is huge. If VHS isn’t around, where are those dogs going?”
But the society currently runs solely on donations to run the roughly $200,000 operation, which is why it’s hosting the annual Outlooks Fashion featuring men and dogs fundraiser on Thursday, Oct. 8. The fashion show includes male models dressed up in the latest fall fashions accompanied by their own dogs. Last year, the event raised more than $5,000 for the society.
The fundraiser takes place at the Parkside Victoria Resort and Spa. Tickets are $55 for adults and $20 for kids under 16.