PACTA BC, the Professional Animal Care and Training Association of BC, was formerly VIATA, the Vancouver Island Animal Training Association.

In June of 2019 Lisbeth Plant and Valerie Barry met again at the BC SPCA Animal Behaviour Science Symposium. During their catch-up discussion, Valerie told Lisbeth that she had been following VIATA and wanted to chat about regulating the dog training industry, and she thought VIATA would be a good group to do just that.  Valerie wanted to encourage VIATA to expand province-wide and pursue regulation. Lisbeth was also strongly in favour of regulating dog training and was excited to bring this message to the Board and members of VIATA!

At our June Annual General Meeting, Valerie presented her vision for regulation in British Columbia and how VIATA was well positioned to become the provincial organization to lead this vision. The membership agreed and, as our first non-Island member, Valerie was voted in as Secretary and together we started working on the BC Expansion Project. 

Expansion was officially approved at an Extraordinary General Meeting on 8 March 2020, and we became PACTA BC.

How did all this start?  

Our Early Days (by Lisbeth Plant):

My first contact with Domena Diesing was in the Fall of 2010, when she called to interview me before referring a client. Domena had been given my name by Chrissie Diron at the Vital K9 Swimming Pool in Errington, but even so, she put me through all the probing and uncomfortable questions appropriate before making such a referral. Domena and I immediately connected and respected each other, and Domena did refer that client to me!

A week or two later, Domena called again: "Hello, it's Domena. Do you know that Cesar Millan is coming to Victoria for a show at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre next Tuesday?! We've got TO DO SOMETHING!"

And this is how the idea to create a group of canine professionals on Vancouver Island was born.

Domena—and I, to a lesser extent—pulled together a group of friends in the industry. We wanted to bring together like-minded people to support and encourage force free, science- and reward-based training and handling methods for companion animals. 

Domena, Bren Axon, Shelley Breadner, Kim Campbell, Donna Hill, Lisa Kerry, Caroline Kinloch, Garda Rowe, many others and I met frequently that fall and winter. We discussed everything about creating a new organization: whether it should be formal or just a loose grouping, who could be a member, the organisation's name, logo, membership fees, committees, social media presence, whether the group would be independent or associated with another organization, and of course, ethics, mission and vision statements, and Constitution and Bylaws for incorporation as a not-for-profit association under the BC Society Act.

The founding members were Domena, Shelley Breadner, Kim Campbell, Lisa Kerry and Lisbeth Plant

In 2011 we incorporated, so in 2021 it had been ten years! Our first Annual General Meeting was held in Nanaimo on 1 May the same year, with eighteen members in attendance. The first Board of Directors elected were Domena (president), Bren Axon (vice president), Madeleine Layton (secretary), Lisbeth (treasurer), Kim Campbell (membership secretary), and Deanna DeBlois and Lynn Fitzpatrick (directors-at-large).

Work began to spread the word, through our website, social media and printed media, and in person at educational events and fairs. The group grew quickly to a steady core of members supplemented by individuals who joined VIATA at our educational events.

Most years we organized several educational in-person events, both speaker-driven and round-table Training Exchange Workshops (TEWs). These successful, well-attended events were a lot of work to organize, and, as with many small organizations, the job consistently fell to the same people. This came to a head in 2019, when we had to ask ourselves if we had a future with our small number of directors and volunteers, or if we should take the leap and expand our membership into the rest of BC. 

The rest, as they say, is history and now, “history in the making”!