Vancouver’s largest event in support of animals, Offleashed, returns in person on October 15th bringing together hundreds of animal lovers to celebrate the BC SPCA’s lifesaving work. I caught up with the Chair of Offleashed, Tracey Wade, to learn more about this unique event and the cause it supports.
QA with Tracey Wade, Chair of Offleashed
Miss604: The event is back in person after being virtual for a few years, I’d love to know more about its history, how did it begin?
Wade: Offleashed came to be in 2015 for a couple of reasons, all driven by a deep love and respect for animals from everyone involved. Firstly, because I have worked for a long time volunteering for charity events I felt the BC SPCA, and the wealth of programs it runs throughout the province, was not widely understood. Secondly, the BC SPCA had no marque event to provide a platform to share details of these lifesaving programs. And thirdly, my life’s goal is to have a positive impact on as many animals as I can before I’m gone. So, with my background in broadcasting and storytelling, we were off and running with his amazing event to celebrate animals and the great works of the BC SPCA.
Miss604: What makes Offleashed unique?
Wade: What makes this event different from other big evening charity events? So many things, but I think what our thousands of guests over the years would initially point to is our – Cuddle Lounge! We have rescued puppies, kittens, and other animals for our Offleashed guests to snuggle and learn about. And a cool fact – all animals featured in our Cuddle Lounges since Offleashed began (in 2015) have been adopted because of the event! Another big difference that sets Offleashed apart from the pack is that I focus on education and growing a compassionate animal loving community. I believe to do that we need to involve youth, so Offleashed warmly welcomes families.
Miss604: Why does the BC SPCA need our support right now (and always)?
Wade: The BC SPCA needs community support now more than ever. The past few years have brought floods, fires, a pandemic, an upsurge of housing insecurity, increasing food insecurity, and many other hurdles that have caused a spike in the need for help for the animals. And I think we, as a society, are becoming more aware of the needs of others…maybe the pandemic helped this shift…I don’t know. The BC SPCA is there first and foremost for the animals. Absolutely. But there are so many programs that help humans too, and with only increasing need, humans and their pets, and all the animals in crisis in BC right now, need support. The BC SPCA is completely reliant on the public. And it is amazing what this organization does and continues to do.
Miss604: I read that you’ve even had a puppy named after you at a previous Offleashed. For you, personally, how important is it to give back and become involved in such worthy causes?
Wade: Our Offleashed event in 2018 happened to fall on my birthday, which I didn’t tell anyone about. But, one kind BC SPCA staff member figured it out and arranged for an adorable puppy being featured in our Cuddle Lounge that year to be named “Wade” (my last name). Of course when I cuddled “Wade” I couldn’t keep it together, what a sweet soul.
But as is the case for all of our Cuddle Lounge animals, “Wade” was adopted and has gone on to live his best life in a loving home. I feel driven to do this work, as I do with my work in mental health at Coast Mental Health and kids health at BC Children’s Hospital, because everyone at a low point deserves kindness, care, and safety.
I love working with the BC SPCA because so many of the organization’s programs are driven by community need and benefit animals and their guardians: pet food banks, free vet clinics, free boarding for those fleeing domestic abuse or entering treatment care, investigating acts of cruelty, educating children at summers camps and in schools, and the list goes on. It’s easy to go on your merry way when you are not informed. But when you know, when you see, you can’t help but get involved or support those who are doing something. And I think, I hope, that’s what Offleashed does – helps people of all ages see and feel, and to add their voices to those standing up for animals in BC.
Miss604: What can folks do to show support if they are unable to attend?
Wade: Anyone can be a friend to animals. Keep up with current issues by visiting the BC SPCA website, volunteer, and donate if you can. But most of all, be kind to animals and all living things. And if you see an animal in crisis, call the BC SPCA Animal Helpline at 1-855-622-7722.
Offleashed for the BC SPCA
The event takes place Saturday, October 15th, 2022 at 6:00pm at JW Marriott Parq Vancouver. Individual tickets and tables are available now – see you there!