The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BC SPCA) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to protecting and enhancing the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in British Columbia.
Income from the Shuswap Branch, B.C.S.P.C.A. Endowment will be disbursed annually following the year end of the Foundation to the Shuswap Branch of the BCSPCA to be used in support of its operations or capital requirements.
Clearly it was the love of animals that prompted Al Neale to create an endowment fund for the Shuswap Branch of the BC Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BCSPCA). He also did it for a more practical reason.
“We wanted to get away from fundraisers, yard sales, and baking cookies,” he says laughing. He believed strongly in the work the local branch was doing and he realized that an assured and steady income would alleviate a lot of time-consuming work.
“I was one of the original members,” says Beryl Herdan who remembers when the first SPCA building was about “the size of a phone booth” and not too practical for the welfare of animals.
“We were just a little group and we wanted to help animals,” says Beryl. They both remember Peter Jennings, Zem and Bill Mersington who also spent countless hours fundraising, and Shagra, the Talking Horse, whose guest appearances helped raise the necessary funds. Besides the book, plant, and bake sales, they organized pony rides, sold cookbooks, ran bingos, a boat raffle, plus casino nights in Vernon.
“We finally got enough money to build a brand new shelter which opened in 1986,” says Beryl.
This was a culmination of a life-long love of animals for Beryl who grew up on a farm and ranched in later years.
“I loved to get out of the house to clean the chicken coop. I couldn’t even stand to see a dog on a chain,” says Beryl.
When Beryl married her husband, Ray, she told him she wanted to live on a ranch. There was no electricity or running water but they were happy and they started a family. Then tragedy struck; Ray contracted polio and was paralyzed.
For the next two years they lived at Shaughnessy Hospital at the coast. When they came back Ray “could do everything but walk.” With amazing determination he did his work from his wheelchair or on a tractor seat and their ranch life went on until tragedy struck a second time. Ray was driving the tractor over a bridge that collapsed and he was killed instantly.
Beryl and her son, Greg, farmed for two more years before they sold the property. She met Rudi, her second husband, while she was living in Kamloops. He worked at Federated Co-op so she moved to Salmon Arm. After Rudi’s untimely passing Beryl met Al who shared her love of animals.
Al was always “a bit of a loner” but that changed when he moved to the Shuswap. Growing up an only child and then having lost his own wife while they had two young children, Al didn’t have much time to relax and enjoy pets. He made up for lost time by becoming one of the local SPCA’s biggest supporters.
“At the time we were afraid any money raised in Salmon Arm would be funneled through the Vancouver office and not remain at our local branch,” says Al. “We racked our brains for several years and then a ‘white knight’ rode into town. Here was the long-sought answer – the Shuswap Community Foundation was officially launched. We could open an endowment fund in the name of SPCA, they would manage and control it and it would stay in Salmon Arm in perpetuity.”
“We worked so hard for the love of animals,” says Beryl “We thought we could make a difference and I think we did.”