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Burnaby resident appears in popular animal rescue TV show

The second season of the docuseries, Pets & Pickers, is being aired on Animal Planet

Margaret Leathley's cats were always the apple of her eye.

That love led the Burnaby-raised Leathley to the not-for-profit Regional Animal Protection Society cat sanctuary years ago as a volunteer, and most recently, gained her a spot in a popular TV show, Pets & Pickers.

The reality show, which is in its second season, follows the “pickers” at the two Regional Animal Protection Society thrift stores in Richmond, where the contestants go through the donated contents of abandoned storage units, and find goods to put on their stores’ display fronts.

The proceeds from selling these valuables at the thrift stores go to RAPS Animal Hospital, where the pets needing veterinary care are treated — think Storage Wars meets Animal Rescue, RAPS CEO Eyal Lichtmann said.

Pets can be expensive, Lichtmann said in a conversation with the NOW, noting that the cost of veterinary care can come as a big shock.

Pets become a part of the family, and since surgery can sometimes cost upwards of $5,000, people are usually faced with a conundrum; and this show, which documents how RAPS funds veterinary care through its thrift stores, is a creative, “exciting” way to give back to the community, he added.

Leathley, who’s also on the board of RAPS, was approached to be part of the show in its debut season, and she said "yes" without a second thought.

“It’s all about helping animals,” she said. “Picking out these bins, finding treasures … it’s a pretty fun way to spend your time, knowing that you’re helping the animals.”

It’s Leathley’s first TV experience, and she told the NOW she loved everything about it — finding treasures, sifting through abandoned mementoes — but none came close to seeing her cat, Ellie, make a cameo appearance in the show.

Ellie, who had been sick with a blood clot, needed hyperbaric treatment to live. Dr. Regan Schwartz, who’s a veterinary doctor at RAPS, recommended that Ellie appear on the show for treatment, which Leathley said “saved [Ellie’s] life.”

"Most cats who get blood clots the back of the legs are in excruciating pain and often don’t make it," Leathley added. "I swear, going into the hyperbaric chamber saved her life. That was the best thing.”

Season 2 of the series premiered on Animal Planet May 6)and will air every Saturday at 5 p.m..

Episodes can also be seen live on CTV (online and app) and Crave.