About LAFS

Valerie Ingram & Alistair Schroff

Lakes Animal Friendship Society

Lakes Animal Friendship Society (LAFS) is a registered Canadian non-profit working to improve the lives of companion animals in our local communities in northern BC.

We believe that happy, healthy animals are part of happy, healthy families and communities.

Valerie Ingram is a certified teacher and president of the Lakes Animal Friendship Society (LAFS).  She has nineteen years of experience teaching all grade levels but spent much of her career teaching kindergarten. A lifelong love of animals and a commitment to teaching care, compassion and respect made humane education a logical career move—even at no pay! Valerie volunteers in classrooms around the community and northwest BC.  She also mentors others who volunteer in communities across the region.

Alistair Schroff is a forester and volunteer with LAFS.  While he has difficulty keeping up with Valerie’s passion and enthusiasm, he brings some business experience and helps with community cat house building, bookkeeping, proposal writing and whatever else needs doing!

Hayley Neilsen - 2012Valerie and Alistair joined forces with Hayley Nielsen to start Lakes Animal Friendship Society in 2009.

Hayley Nielsen is a member of and councilor for the Nee Tahi Buhn band and former RCMP officer. A long-time animal lover, Hayley has helped many community members with pet food, fostering of animals and re-homed animals in need of forever homes. Her husband Ken built the first doghouse for the LAFS Doghouse Project.

Our board includes Ramona Skin of the Skin Tyee Nation and Brad Bell, a local college instructor.

Christina WingfieldChristina Wingfield recently moved to Burns Lake with her husband James and her rescued dog Brandi. She is an animal advocate with a passion for animal welfare and animal behaviour. She previously volunteered with a number of dog rescue organizations and worked/volunteered for the Victoria branch of the BCSPCA for the past nine years. During her work with the SPCA, she spent two years learning about applied animal behaviour and learning theory and used this knowledge to work with many of the animals in care. Christina volunteers with LAFS as our Program Coordinator.

Christina says “I am thrilled to be working with and learning from the amazing Lakes Animal Friendship Society here in Burns Lake. I am enjoying visiting schools here and sharing some of my knowledge and experiences working with animals.”

LAFS was incorporated as a society in early 2011 and became a registered charity at the end of 2016.

Valerie and Alistair have written two children’s books together.  Their first book, Nobody’s Cats is based on the true story of a community cat TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) project, and Out of the Cold is also a true story based on a community project to build dog and cat houses for animals in need, including community cats.

Thanks to LAFS programs, including the development of support networks and the outstanding efforts of local children, schools and other community members, we have seen tremendous positive change in attitudes and behaviour regarding animal welfare.

LAFS main programs


Over 6000 student visits

Making a difference starts with education! We educate students and other community members about animal care, compassion and bite safety. Studies show that children who learn compassion and respect for animals have a better chance at becoming compassionate adults. They are less likely to be violent and
more likely to be responsible community members.

Spay/Neuter Programs

Over 1100 spays and neuters of animals in our community of 7000 people

There are simply too many animals and not enough loving homes! Spaying and neutering is healthier for your pets, your family and community. We work with outstanding groups like the Canadian Animal Assistance Team and the Burns Lake Veterinary Clinic to help lower-income families have their pets spayed and neutered. Our efforts to help community cats (including large scale trap/neuter/return) are featured in our first book, Nobody’s Cats.

Pet Food

Over 7 tons of dog and cat food distributed to animals in need

We want to make sure all members of the family are properly fed. We provide the local food bank with year-round access to donated food. Burns Lake Community Forest, Starland Supply, Bandstra Transportation, Willow from Crooked Leg Ranch, Heather, PG Petland, Jake and Daisey’s Raw Pet Food, Pet Connection, Gwyn’s Green Grocer, Overwaitea, Superstore and P&B Feeds have helped us source, store and transport the food we need for hungry local critters.

Animal Shelters

Over 250 houses built or refurbished and distributed to animals in need since 2009

Dogs and cats need a warm house for the winter. Of course we wish that every dog and cat could be snuggled up indoors with their family but this is not always possible. Thanks to the local high school and college, an efficient and effective dog house design (the “Hofer House”) has been used to build over 200 dog and cat houses. Local schools, students of all ages and other community members have been involved in building houses from scratch and from “flat packs”, painting them with cheerful designs and colours, and providing handmade beds from recycled materials!