BC SPCA?s new South Peace Branch manager spreads her wings

As far as Tracey Storoschuk is concerned, her new position with the BC Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals if for the birds.Pigeons, specifically. ?I love pigeons,? says Storoschuk, new manager of the BC SPCA?s South Peace Branch in Dawson Creek. ?A lot of people think of them as pests, but as birds go, they?re an underrated species.?

Storoschuk has personally rehabilitated and released several pigeons, including an adult with a broken wing and several one-day-old babies. She says they are unusually sweet and trusting, despite the predicaments in which she finds them.

?They have such a high body temperature that they tend to heal very quickly and can be released quite soon after an injury.?

Storoschuk isn?t alone in her pigeon passion. The common pigeon, or rock pigeon, is the world?s oldest domesticated bird, appearing as early as 5,000 years ago in Egyptian hieroglyphics. Thanks to their homing ability, speed and altitude, pigeons have earned a respectable place in history, carrying important messages inconspicuously past enemy lines in both the First and Second Word Wars as well as the Franco-Prussian War of 1871-71.

In fact, a pigeon named Cher Ami was decorated as a war hero after the First World War for delivering 12 messages during a confrontation between the French and the Germans. During his final mission, Cher Ami was shot in the breast and leg and blinded in one eye, but still managed to deliver his message, which was found in a capsule hanging from a ligament in his shattered leg. The message saved almost 200 U.S. soldiers.

Cher Ami is among 32 pigeons who have been awarded for services to humanity.

?When people think of heroic animals, dogs usually steal the spotlight, but pigeons have saved a few lives, too,? says Storoschuk.

A former kennel technician with the BC SPCA?s Quesnel & District Branch, Storoschuk has a soft spot for dogs and cats, too. She has to — the South Peace Branch provided care to almost 1,000 animals last year, mostly dogs, cats, puppies and kittens.

?You can?t do this type of work without having a love of all animals,? says Storoschuk. ?Senior pets have a special place in my heart because they often get overlooked in favour of younger animals, yet they have so much to offer.?

Storoschuk?s other passion is her love for people. She says a highlight of her work is when children drop by the shelter with heart-warming stories to tell about pets they adopted, and Mason jars full of coins they they painstakingly collected doing chores to donate.

New to Dawson Creek, Storoschuk is anxious to meet her neighbours and invites members of the community to drop by the shelter, located at 637-114th Ave., and introduce themselves.

The facility is open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and tours can be arranged. Visit spca.bc.ca/SouthPeace/ or call 250-782-2444 for more information and to find out ways you can help animals in your community.

The BC SPCA is a non-profit organization funded primarily by public donations. Our mission is to prevent cruelty and to promote the welfare of animals through a wide range of services, including cruelty investigations, emergency rescue and treatment, sheltering and adoption of homeless and abused animals, humane education, advocacy, farm animal welfare, spay/neuter programs, and wildlife rescue and rehabilitation.