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

In June of 2019 Lisbeth Plant and Valerie Barry met at the BC SPCA Animal Behaviour Science Symposium. During their catch-up discussion, Valerie and Lisbeth discussed how VIATA, as a well established organisation, could be a perfect springboard to a province-wide initiative to support animal care and training professionals. Lisbeth was also strongly in favour of expanding 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 the expansion, which was well received. Valerie stood for and was voted in as Secretary during the meeting.

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 with a proposal to create a group of canine professionals on Vancouver Island.

Domena—and I, to a lesser extent—pulled together a group of friends in the industry who were also eager 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 organisation: 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 and 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 organised several educational in-person events, both speaker-driven and round-table Training Exchange Workshops (TEWs). Through VIATA’s successful, well-attended events we were able to reach a wide audience on the Island.

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