Cowichan area cat-astrophe on its way?
Sandi Trent has let the cat out of the bag — Cowichan has a feline problem.
Between Coastal Animal Services no longer accepting strays, and two significant seizures of cats from mentally ill owners, the local SPCA is three times over its cat capacity.
Add to that Cowichan Cat Rescue’s frustration that few people are taking advantage of its low-cost spay and neuter program, and it’s clear Cowichan is raining cats and … more cats.
“We’re way beyond overload,” says Trent, manager of the local SPCA.
“We were already behind the eight ball after 71 cats were seized earlier this spring, going into kitten season, and then we’ve just had another 22 cats seized on top of that.”
Taking in stray cats isn’t part of the SPCA mandate, although the local shelter has never turned them away — an informal policy that’s becoming a problem now that Coastal Animal Services is refusing strays.
As reported previously, Coastal ceased using gas-box chambers to euthanize unclaimed cats after widespread criticism from animal groups.
North Cowichan rejected Coastal’s appeal for funding to euthanize by injection — a more costly method preferred by animal rights groups.
That’s when the shelter announced it could no longer afford to take in strays at all.
North Cowichan Councillor John Koury said the municipality continues to mull the issue.
“I know that staff is working, from what I understand, with Coastal Animal Services to deal with the issue,” he said. “What they come up with in the end, council will be made aware of.
“It’s clear that there were a lot of questions being asked by council regarding the contractual obligations of Coastal, and I know our staff is discussing that with them.”
Koury, who had voted in favour of providing Coastal with funds to euthanize by injection, said he supported the will of council.
“My own view on this,” he added, “is that we should be using best practices, and if there’s a better way of doing things, we should strive to do that.”
Best practices of cat-ownership, of course, include spaying or neutering the animal.
But according to Cowichan Cat Rescue’s Jean Hamilton, too few are doing it.
Even after CCR received a $10,000 grant from Pepsi to establish a free spay-and-neuter program for low-income pet owners, Hamilton said few are bothering with the apparently onerous task of filling out a form, mailing it or dropping it off at Duncan Pets.
“I don’t know (why),” Hamilton said, clearly at a loss for words.
“I think maybe people don’t understand the urgency of getting the forms back in, and the reason it’s urgent is because the grant is paid out in two installments — if we don’t use the first installment by the January deadline, we don’t get the second installment.”
That means CCR has to spay at least another 30 cats by the end of the year, or it loses the chance to spay another 50 for free in the new year.
Hamilton is obviously confused by the lack of response, and perhaps a little irritated.
“I’ve spent the past three years trying to get a low-cost program going, and now that I finally have, it turns out the people it’s designed for aren’t taking advantage of it,” she said.
“And they’ve got to act now, or they’re going to lose it.”
For more, call Cowichan Cat Rescue at 250-743-6500 or the Cowichan SPCA at 250-746-4646.