Below you'll find some of the coverage VOKRA has received in the media, locally and beyond.
The Surrey Leader:VOKRA’s future in doubt
The Surrey branch of the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA), a volunteer-run organization dedicated to the rescue of homeless cats in Surrey and surrounding municipalities, will be left without its operating facilities after the City of Surrey Animal Resource Centre’s upcoming move to a Cloverdale location.
VOKRA currently runs its Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program from a building at the Animal Resource Centre’s 6706 152 St. site.
The group is seeking the help of the local community in finding a suitable new space in central Surrey to continue its operations.
The goal of the Surrey branch of VOKRA is to help curb the number of homeless cats found on Surrey streets.
Since it began operations in this area in early 2011, more than 900 cats have been spayed and neutered by VOKRA.
“We are absolutely devastated to be losing our Trap-Neuter-Return centre,” said volunteer Christine Johnson. “We are very thankful that the city has allowed us to operate from its Animal Resource Center on 152nd Street for the past year. Since we started our work in Surrey, our volunteers have been able to help over 900 abandoned cats. The loss of the TNR centre will mean an immediate halt to our work.”
It is estimated that there are more than 12,000 free roaming cats in Surrey.
At VOKRA’s centre, cats that are humanely trapped from the streets are first brought for assessment and care.
Cats are then taken to a vet to be spayed or neutered, tattooed, vaccinated, and treated for any other medical issues.
After a short stay in the TNR centre to recover from their surgeries, cats are returned to site if it is safe to do so, relocated to a barn if it is not, or placed in a foster home if the cats are tame and adoptable.
TNR stabilizes the feral cat population by preventing further reproduction, while also improving and protecting the lives of the existing feral cats and pet cats that are allowed to be outdoors.
The group is seeking a building with at least a 20x15-foot space in central Surrey that offers access to electricity, running water, and 24/7 access.
Ideally, a washroom facility would also be available.
Alternatively, if a parcel of land can be made available, VOKRA will fundraise to place a suitable building on-site.
Community members and businesses that can provide building space, land or donations are encouraged to contact VOKRA at email@example.com
If you can help or want more information, visit www.vokra.ca
The NOW news: Rescue Group appeals for help to save cats
JoyTV reports on VOKRA, which rescued 600 cats last year.
CNC World:New life for unwanted cats
VOKRA co-founder Karen Duncan on caring for a cat and what to consider before adopting.
VanCity Buzz: VOKRA+Arbonne: Get smitten and rescue kittens!
The Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA) will receive 20% of Arbonne beauty product revenues for the months of October and November.
The Province:B.C. rescue services dealing with record number of abandoned cats
Heartless pet owners in B.C. are abandoning their cats more than ever before, creating a kitty crisis in the Lower Mainland.
“We’ve been dealing with a record number [of abandoned cats] this year,” said Karen Duncan, president of the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association.
“Cats appear to be thought of as disposable ... it’s very sad.”
According to Duncan, B.C. has always had an overpopulation of cats, but this has been VOKRA’s worst year. It usually has about 800 cats, but now it’s close to 1,800.
Rescues keep increasing, but donations and adoptions can’t keep up with demand.
“The numbers go up very quickly and they’re ill and there’s lots of bills to pay just to get them to live,” she said.
While she attributes the influx to a late summer — cats had an extra heat, resulting in pregnant or nursing strays — it all comes down to the responsibility of pet owners.
“Each city needs to start thinking a lot more seriously about how to stop this from happening and how to stop relying on rescues and SPCAs for an answer,” said Duncan.
“They need to be neutering, they need to be looking after the animals.
“People let cats go out by themselves ... they let them go out and breed.”
But they can’t survive on their own, so Duncan is seeing frail and starved cats.
The B.C. SPCA is also feeling the heat. According to general manager Lorie Chortyk, kitten season is May to September, and they generally take in about 6,000.
“This fall it just doesn’t seem to have ended,” she said. “ ... thousands are free roaming and abandoned — those cats are multiplying exponentially.”
According to Duncan, a number of owners claimed the SPCA turned them away. But Chortyk said owners would only be turned away temporarily if they don’t have room.
“We can only take in the number we have the capacity for,” she said.
“We’re a safety net there for any animal in need. But we also don’t want to enable people to just devalue these animals when it’s no longer convenient.”
VOKRA offers a trap-neuter-return program that seeks out strays and spays them, but more cities and organizations need to catch on to this, said Duncan — especially Surrey, which is where nearly one-third of the rescue service’s strays and abandoned cats come from.
According to Surrey’s manager of animal care and control, Kim Marosevich, “there’s always been an overpopulation of felines in Surrey.”
The city’s been talking about developing education programs and trap-neuter-return plans or low-cost, spay-and-neuter services, but nothing is in the works yet.
“The big issue for everyone comes around funding — how do we afford to do this?” said Marosevich.
So, for now, VOKRA is asking for more foster homes, adopters and donations and the SPCA is offering 50 per cent off all feline adoptions until Dec. 9. But the rigorous adoption rules still stand to ensure they go to safe homes.
“It’s the animals who pay the price, but it’s absolutely a human problem,” said Chortyk. “They do deserve better than they get from humans.”
CBC News:Vancouver coyote sightings up sharply
The number of reported coyote sightings in Vancouver has risen nearly 600 per cent over the past two years, the B.C. Environment Ministry says.
In 2009 there were 51 sightings, but that number rose to 297 last year.
Conservation officials say the increase doesn't necessarily mean an increase in the coyote population. It could mean a lack of the usual food sources has drawn the animals into areas where they may have better luck finding food and also are more readily seen by humans.
The SPCA announced Friday that a recent spate of about two dozen cat killings in Maple Ridge was the work of coyotes, not a human predator. And last month a family of coyotes was evicted from underneath a Burnaby elementary school.
Conservation officials don't consider the increase in sightings to be a public safety issue. Coyotes are generally scared of humans and will avoid them.
But there are signs that some coyotes are becoming bolder, said the Karen Duncan, president of the Vancouver Orphaned Kitten Rescue Association.
“We’ve had incidents where a small dog is being walked and a coyote comes out of the bush five feet away and starts stalking and doesn’t run away.”
The coyote’s natural habitat is desert and grasslands. But they have migrated from the U.S. Midwest and as far north as Calgary, following roads and railways, said Dan Straker, of the Stanley Park Ecology Society.
Animal People Online:“Cat ladies” of greater Vancouver still wary despite hard-won gains
Canadian Veterinary Medical Association:Feral cats -- is TNVR working?
While on assignment at “Snakehead Pond” on Monday, I met Maria Soroski, a volunteer cat trapper who works with the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association.
Maria is the same woman who saved a cat and her litter of kittens from a construction site at Metropolis at Metrotown. Those kittens are still not ready for adoption, but Maria said they’ve had a few applicants express interest.
These kittens, however, were found at a Surrey farm and brought to VOKRA by animal control. She is fostering them and has to bottle feed them periodically. They just started to open their eyes, so it will be a while before they are ready for adoption.
Maria let me hold the kittens and feed on of them. They were mewing and nuzzling my sweater – too cute!
Vancouver Is Awesome:Vancouver on the Cheap: VOKRA
Way back when I wrote my very first post ever for Vancouver is Awesome, I gave some basic principles for cheap living. One of those principles stated that if you’re trying to live on the cheap, you’ve got to avoid dependents. Whether human or animal, dependents can cost a lot of money, and no matter how much they repay you in love, joy, and affirmation of the true meaning of life, those qualities don’t help replenish your bank account.
Less than five minutes after the article went live I started receiving messages from friends asking if I had forgotten about VOKRA.
Indeed, I had forgotten about VOKRA.
For those of you feeling very confused right now, VOKRA, while sounding like something vaguely Klingon, actually stands for Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association. It is a non-kill society of volunteers dedicated to rescuing cats in the Lower Mainland. Instead of operating out of a shelter, VOKRA has about 100 foster homes where these abandoned kitties are housed, loved, and fed until someone is able to adopt them.
Fostering, it turns out, is the key to having a feline-type dependent on the cheap. It allows you all the joy of having a sweet little cat in your home without any of the cost: food and supplies are provided, as well as any health care needs. You don’t even need to make a lifetime commitment if you’re terrified of long-term relationships – all you have to promise to to love this kitty until someone adopts it or until you need to give it back.
VOKRA helps Bubbles the Skunk in the West End
In August 2011, Bubbles the skunk was spotted in the West End with a bubble tea lid constricting her neck. Bubbles eluded captors until November 2011. VOKRA volunteer Shirley captured Bubbles and Bubbles received life saving surgery at the Wildlife Rescue Assocation of B.C.
Global TV:Vancouver skunk continues to elude rescuers
The Province:Bubbles the skunk caught in drink lids undergoes surgery
Global TV:Bubbles the skunk caught in drink lid undergoes surgery
National Post:Vancouver Skunk undergoes surgery after wandering for months with bubble tea lid around neck
Update on Bubbles:Wildlife Rescue Association Facebook page
The Province:Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Group Needs Help
News 1130:Loving homes needed for more than 200 cats
They're cute and fuzzy, and they really need a home. The Vancouver Orphaned Kitten Rescue Association is dealing with way more cats than this time last year.
President Karen Duncan says they rescued more than 200 cats last month. "We got in 45 cats and kittens from one home where they had gotten out of control."
Others were kittens from homeless cats or they had been abandoned.
Some of Duncan's volunteers rescued two kittens from a bag in a dumpster in Yaletown, their eyes hadn't opened yet and they had to be bottle fed.
She says some of the kittens and cats still need to be nursed back to good health, but most are friendly, cuddly, and looking for a good home with a lot of overdue love.
Duncan explains owners need to be responsible enough to learn about getting their pet spayed or neutered, and get it done as soon as possible.
Burnaby Now:Burnaby cats part of 200 looking for homes
So far in 2011, Burnaby has seen 55 cats being rescued by a Vancouver group, but that number may be even bigger due to a recent 100-cat and kitten situation.
The Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA) saved more than 100 cats and kittens across the Lower Mainland in one week.
The rescued furry creatures are now in the care of VOKRA, which has been overwhelmed by the sudden influx of rescues and it's seeking foster homes, adopters and donations.
The group also traps, neuters and releases (TNR) an average of 50 cats per year and rescues an average of 25 mom cats with 100 kittens. The TNR program has been running in Burnaby for the past five years.
"One of our projects was a TNR of a feral cat colony near Metrotown about eight years ago, which had reduced the rat population, but those cats have since died from old age, and the rat population is growing again," said Maria Soroski, TNR program coordinator.
There are only 18 foster homes in Burnaby and the group is hoping for more applications from potential foster families.
"VOKRA had made a presentation to the mayor and council about a year and a half ago requesting funding to maintain and expand the TNR program in Burnaby, and we would be happy to start discussions to help the animal populations in Burnaby," she added.
The association is seeking financial support from the public to take care of these cats and kittens, and upgrade their health so they're adoption ready.
"In one day, we took about 40 surrendered cats from a single home, including five mothers with kittens and two other litters without moms," Karen Duncan, VOKRA's president, said in a press release.
"We know kitten season starts in spring every year, but we weren't prepared for all these cats right now. They are an enormous strain on our already limited resources, and we urgently need donations to pay their vet bills. We also need suitable foster homes and adopters."
VOKRA took in 208 cats this June, which is a 24 per cent increase from last year.
Many of the rescued four-legged animals are kittens, pregnant cats and nursing mothers with kittens.
"We recognize the tremendous support we have received from the community in the past," Duncan added. "Unfortunately, there were many cat situations in the Lower Mainland that got out of hand at the same time, and now we need extra help to alleviate the problem."
The rescued cats' health gets assessed, while many are already past due for being spayed or neutered. Some have serious illnesses or medical problems that run bills into the hundreds of dollars.
VOKRA's mandate is to take care of cats and kittens that were abandoned, surrendered from home or trapped from feral colonies in Burnaby, Vancouver, Surrey and White Rock.
News 1130: Cat rescued from the rubble of a house fire in Burnaby
It was a very lucky Christmas Eve for a cat rescued from the rubble of last week's house fire in Burnaby.
Maria Soroski with the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue says other animals in the affected house weren't so fortunate. "A little black female named Suzy, and we were able to capture her today. She was living in the rubble of the house, so a really good Christmas for Suzy this year."
She says the owner of the cat can't have her back, so Suzy is now up for adoption.
Vancouver Courier:Kittens and Cats up for Adoption
This holiday season, think of the kittens. Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association needs help to continue its work rescuing hundreds of abandoned kittens and cats in Vancouver and Burnaby.
VOKRA president Karen Duncan says all animal rescue organizations are stunned by how enormous the need has been this year. She notes there were many more cats abandoned and dumped on the street this year, many that were young and pregnant.
VOKRA is a volunteer-run, non-profit charity that works to reduce uncontrolled breeding in feral cat colonies. You can help VOKRA this Christmas season by making a donation, purchasing calendars, T-shirts or bracelets or by becoming a sponsor.
"Kitten massage video goes viral" coverage
In June 2010, one of our fosters uploaded a video on YouTube - the now famous "kitten massage" video.
In September, it went viral and was seen on hundreds of websites worldwide, including The Ellen DeGeneres Show. In December, Vancouver media picked up the story.
CBC Radio:Kitten massage
CBC online:B.C. kitten massage video
Vancouver SunKitten massage video goes viral on YouTube
Vancouver Sun Puppy Love Blog:Massage loving kittens go viral on YouTube
Metro Vancouver: Kitten rescue threatened with shutdown
After nearly a decade in the kitten-saving business Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue (VOKRA) may be forced to close its doors after amassing more than $35,000 in veterinary bills.
“We’re going to be forced to shut down,” said Maria Soroski, co-founder of VOKRA. “Donations have been down all year.”
Founded in early 2001, VOKRA has placed thousands of abandoned and orphaned kittens into foster homes throughout the Lower Mainland.
This year alone the group has rescued more than 1,000 felines. The group also helps spay and neuter the kittens of 50 to 60 low-income families every year.
“We do it because there are just so many cats out there it just breaks our heart,” she said.
The charity also relied for the last three years on money willed to them that has recently run out.
While Soroski admits a sluggish economy has also been a factor in their troubles, two large, unanticipated rescues earlier this year hit their group hard.
Karen Duncan, co-founder of VOKRA with Soroski, admits the group may have over-extended themselves this past year.
“We expanded into Surrey from just Vancouver and Burnaby,” said Duncan. “Surrey is a very big problem and I realize now I just can’t take on that city by myself.”
Westender:Kitten Rescue Program in Jeopardy
CTV News:Animal rescue overwhelmed with orphan kittens
The holidays are a time of year when many people give to the less fortunate, and one group is hoping that generosity will extend to animals in need -- specifically, orphaned kittens.
The Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue is in dire straits this year after receiving an unprecedented number of homeless cats.
"It's a really sad situation that humans have caused," said group president Karen Duncan.
In the average year, the group claims to take in around 800 cats. But more and more people are leaving their pets behind when they move, Duncan said, straining the group's finances.
The group is not a shelter, instead relying on 150 volunteer foster families to provide care for orphaned and abandoned cats.
With limited families available, however, much of the kitten rescue's operation involves trapping stray cats, spaying them and letting them back into the wild. It's an expensive process that has racked up $50,000 in veterinary bills for the organization.
The group is trying to get funding from civic governments, and Duncan says there's still hope.
"We're not going anywhere, we're holding," she said. "But we just said, 'We can't take on anymore situations until we get our vet bills paid off.'"