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Cat rescue costs soaring

The BC SPCA's cost to deal with an estimated 300 cats and kittens removed from a Houston rural property is at least $300,000 and rising, reports a senior official with the animal welfare society.
More than 100 cats removed from a rural Houston property remain under the care of the BC SPCA. (BC SPCA photo)

The BC SPCA's cost to deal with more than 300 cats and kittens removed from a Houston rural property is at least $300,000 and rising, reports a senior official with the animal welfare society.

To date, $225,000 has been raised via donations and in-kind donations have helped defray the expense of items such as food and medical care, says Tracy Westmoreland, the society's senior director of provincial animal care services.

The complicated and enormous task of removing cats and kittens from Bruce Richmond's property began the end of March when he contacted the BC SPCA for help, saying he could no longer cope with a growing feline population on his property.

Richmond began caring for a few stray cats several years ago but as numbers grew, and as people began leaving unwanted cats at his property, he became overwhelmed.

BC SPCA workers began by bringing him food and kitty litter while arranging to transport cats and kittens to a warehouse in Prince George for full assessment and treatment.

Numbers began to climb as some of the removed cats were pregnant and gave birth after going into care.

"More than 135 cats have been adopted and are in their forever homes. Many are waiting for spay and neuter surgery or the completion of their medical care and then will be going to their forever home. 130 are still in care and available for adoption," said Westmoreland.

All cats were spayed or neutered at either one of the BC SPCA’s hospitals or at an outside veterinary clinic and that include ones who were adopted out.

"The 130 cats remaining in the BC SPCA’s care have either been spayed or neutered or will be before they are adopted. Many are waiting for their spay and neuter surgery and after the surgery is complete, will go to their forever home," Westmoreland said.

Richmond has approximately 20 cats still on his property and some will be taken into care while other will be spayed and neutered and returned to him.

"Our priority was to remove as many of the cats as possible off the property and find them forever homes. However, as some of these remaining cats are less social with people, we are working with the property owner to have them spayed and neutered and returned to the property," Westmoreland continued.

Residents from around B.C. began dropping off everything from blankets and towels to treats, cat toys and crates at animal care centres upon hearing the news of the large number of cats that were removed.

Warehouse space was provided by KMS Tools & Equipment in Prince George for a temporary triage centre and Telus provided telemedicine appointments for the cats.

The magnitude of dealing with 300-plus cats and kittens brought more than 30 BC SPCA staff and volunteers to Prince George at the height of the removal operation. Staffers and volunteers continue to care for the 130 still in care and read for adoption.

"Cats from this property have been transported to animal centres across the province to receive care and to help them find their forever homes through the BC SPCA’s Drive for Lives program," Westmoreland said.



About the Author: Rod Link

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