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Volunteers make it all possible

By Eyal Lichtmann

Published 12:33 PST, Fri February 7, 2020

Last Updated: 4:35 PST, Fri March 6, 2020

The Regional Animal Protection Society’s story began a quarter-century ago, when a few dedicated volunteers came together, calling themselves Richmond Homeless Cats Society. From those humble beginnings has emerged one of Canada’s largest animal-serving organizations. 

Few people have had so close a view to the organization’s progress as Barbara and Waldi Trotzki.

“I think it was ’89,” says Barbara. The couple owned a boat-building company at Capstan Way and No. 3 Road and discovered a litter of feral kittens hiding under a shelter on their grounds. 

“I didn’t realize there was such a thing as a feral cat, so it opened my eyes,” she says, laughing. Over the following decades, the pair has come to know feral cats intimately. Someone told Carol Reichert, founder of Richmond Homeless Cats and, later, RAPS, about the kittens and she dropped by. 

“She told us about the trapping, neutering and release program,” Barbara says. Before the RAPS Cat Sanctuary opened, the organization would humanely trap, then spay or neuter and later release the cats back to their locations. In the meantime, a small army took care of feeding stations all over Richmond—and Barbara and Waldi were soon volunteered into the team.

Over the years, the Trotzkis have unstintingly shown up—always together—for regular shifts at the Sanctuary. At present, they work Saturday and Sunday nights—one of them feeding while the other scoops turd.

“So we look after them from one end to the other,” she says.

They are also especially popular with the feline residents because they bring organic eggs—donated from Rabbit River Farms—scrambled with tuna.

“It’s fun to do something for the animals,” she says. But they also enjoy the company of other volunteers.

“It’s a sanctuary for them as well,” she says. “You sort of charge up your own batteries as well. I think it’s time well spent.”

RAPS is all about the animals. But everything we do is possible because of people—people like Waldi and Barbara Trotzki, whose decades of devotion are among the reasons we are able to give such individualized attention to the thousands of animals we care for. 

More than all but a tiny handful of people, Barbara and Waldi have watched the organization grow.

“We appreciate how far the organization has come,” she says.

Eyal Lichtmann is CEO and executive director of the Regional Animal Protection Society

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