Vita, Vancouver ecoVillage’s disabled therapy dog and “mascot”.
Handout / Vancouver ecoVillage
The operators of a Vancouver-based wellness group say they are “devastated” after thieves made off with more than $25,000 worth of custom-made equipment intended for therapy dogs.Vancouver ecoVillage, a non-profit organization “dedicated to providing therapeutic services and mental health wellness for all,” offers a variety of programs and services, including animal-assisted therapy for people in need. On Wednesday, the group hosted an event at UBC involving 50 dogs before returning to their home base in Vancouver’s West End neighbourhood.The equipment, which includes 50 custom-made harnesses, embroidered leashes, red collars, ID badges, and cooling-gel dog mats, as well as multiple bags and animal-face purses, was left in a van parked on Henshaw Lane at Cardero Street.Program manager Quille Kaddon said her group typically brings the equipment inside right away, but they were exhausted after the event and left the items locked in the van overnight.The next morning, it was all gone.
Vancouver ecoVillage therapy dogs.
“All of the doors were locked in the van, but somehow they found a way of breaking and entering, and they stole absolutely everything, every single piece of equipment, which, for us, is completely devastating,” Kaddon said.Among the items taken was a special “dogger stoller,” estimated at $300. The three-wheeled pet carrier belonged to Vita, known as Meatball on social media. The French bulldog has hip dysplasia, a missing spinal disc, and broken knee ligaments, among other maladies. But the stroller has allowed her to remain effective as a therapy dog.
Vita, Vancouver ecoVillage’s disabled therapy dog and “mascot,” in her special stroller.
“That stroller is for a handicapped dog,” Kaddon said. “It’s a dog that has helped for many years in the hospitals and the universities,” Kaddon said. “Kind of a mascot for the organization. Basically our mascot’s stroller was stolen.”Kaddon estimated that it would take Vancouver ecoVillage more than a year to replace everything that was taken.“All of this material, we cannot just walk into a store and order it offline, because we have had special tailors make them,” she said.“Plus it’s an incalculable loss to us because we’re not insured for these products, because every single dollar we spend, we spend on the therapy dogs,” she said.Kaddon said Vancouver Police have been contacted, and provided a police report number (VA19-114048) in case anyone has information that could assist the investigation.Police told ecoVillage to keep an eye on websites like Craigslist and Kijiji, where thieves might attempt to unload the therapy dog’s equipment.
A Vancouver ecoVillage therapy dog.
Kaddon expressed concern that the special harnesses, certified by ecoVillage, would be sold to people hoping to fraudulently claim their dogs are therapy animals.“Everybody’s looking for a therapy dog harness,” she said. “They can take their dog everywhere if they slap one of these harnesses on. They can take them into malls, into SkyTrains. They can go other places where regular dogs cannot go.”A worst-case scenario would see an individual use the harness on an aggressive dog, potentially endangering community members and tarnishing ecoVillage’s reputation.But ecoVillage is hoping it doesn’t come to that, and that, with the help of the public and police, the items can be spotted and returned to their rightful owners: 50 of Vancouver’s friendliest dogs.“We are completely devastated,” said Kaddon. “We have several therapy dog events coming up on Monday and every week in June, but now the therapy dogs will have none of their needed harnesses or equipment.”
Among the items stolen: this collection of adorable animal-face purses.
firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow @harrisonmooneyCLICK HERE to report a typo.Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email email@example.com.