Cathy Cook was surprised when she was named the recipient of the volunteer award of excellence at the LAPS summer gala. (Roxanne Hooper/Langley Advance Times)

Cathy Cook was surprised when she was named the recipient of the volunteer award of excellence at the LAPS summer gala. (Roxanne Hooper/Langley Advance Times)

Volunteer lends health and safety expertise to Langley animal welfare group

Efforts earn Cathy Cook the Patti Dale Volunteer Award of Excellence

by Frank Bucholtz/Special to the Aldergrove Star

Cathy Cook received the Patti Dale Award of Excellence at the annual Langley Animal Protection Society gala recently.

“She’s amazing, “said Jenn Schroeder, media liaison for LAPS. “She helps support us in any way she can.”

Cook has been a volunteer with LAPS for the past five years and has been a huge asset to the organization. She even helped with the set-up and clean-up for the gala, which this year was held outdoors at Thunderbird Equestrian Centre.

She was one of five volunteers nominated for the award. LAPS has more than 100 volunteers, including people who foster animals in their homes. It lost quite a few during COVID and is always ready to have more people helping.

Cook, 64, has nothing but praise for LAPS, which she says is a wonderful organization to be part of as a volunteer.

“Volunteers are very essential,” she said. “LAPS does the very best job of recognizing the value of volunteers. That’s why I’ve stuck around.”

She first became a volunteer in November 2017, when she had more time to do so. She had a lengthy career of more than four decades in occupational health and safety, something she continues to do as a consultant. She soon realized after becoming a volunteer, that LAPS needed an occupational health and safety plan, and was instrumental in helping set up a safety committee and safety program.

“I was in the right place at the right time. They didn’t even know they needed it,” Cook said.

She continues to be involved with that, and pointed out that having such a program in place is very important in a facility where staff are dealing with animals, which are unpredictable.

“We have a protocol for staff in dealing with dangerous animals,” she added.

That is just one of many roles she has filled as a volunteer. She also regularly calls people who have adopted cats and kittens through the shelter, to see how the experience was and answer any concerns. This follow-up information is very valuable as LAPS adjusts its systems. Many adult cats are adopted from the shelter, and many kittens are fostered by volunteers. Feedback is important.

She lives in the North Otter area, within five minutes drive of the shelter, and comes to the shelter at least once a week to feed and socialize cats. This also assists the cats to become more likely to be adopted.

She helps set up and take down at events – like the gala in mid-July.

“When I heard about the award (ahead of time), I said ‘I can’t be a guest. I need to get up and help’.”

She even takes turns washing dishes, which is more challenging than it sounds. In order to keep things sanitary and prevent viruses from spreading through the shelter, thorough dishwashing is essential.

She is very supportive of LAPS and its approach to animal welfare.

“(The society) is a most caring group,” she said. “If an animal has to go to a shelter, it’s the one to be at. It is a no-kill shelter, and it works with animals to make them adoptable.”

She was “flabbergasted” to receive the award, and is honoured to receive an award named after shelter founder Patti Dale.

“She would still be pleased (with LAPS), and her daughters are still involved.”

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• READ MORE: LAPS gala nets $85,000 for animal care

• READ MORE: Meet Heidi and Hazel, two abandoned dogs cared for at LAPS

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