Dr. Trevor Reeves, veterinarian with the South Peace Animal Hospital, said it is far too often during the winter months that his clinic will take in an abandoned animal that has been left to fend for itself. The clinic’s latest rescue is a cat the staff there have affectionately dubbed “Rubbish” after it was found in a dumpster that emptied at the Bessborough landfill on Thursday. Reeves said judging by how skinny the cat is and the scratches it had sustained to its face, it had probably not had a home for quite some time.
“He’s been living rough for quite a while, I think, so he’s probably feral – not really wild, but people’s cats that have gone missing and have started to fend for themselves,” he said. “At this time of the year, most of these guys – unless they can find a food source – are not going to make it.”
He added “Rubbish” is a domestic shorthair that appears to be less than a year old.
Reeves said the clinic probably takes in at least three abandoned cats every winter, and those are the ones lucky enough to be found and brought in. He said those that are not so fortunate are often found frozen to roadways, starved to death or killed by another animal.
He said some people will even take an unwanted cat to a landfill thinking the animal will find food there, but he said there really isn’t anything there to sustain them.
“It drives me crazy that people think they are disposable items,” he said.
“We just found a home for a cat that was found at the same dump just last week – she had no ears,” added Diane Power, an animal health technician at the clinic.
Reeves said normally Rubbish would be taken to the SPCA to be sheltered until a home could be found for him, but the shelter is already overwhelmed with cats, so the clinic will take care of him for the time being. He said, fortunately, that breed of cat has a very friendly disposition towards people, so finding him a home should be easier.
“These guys are very happy to find homes. Once they find a food supply and they find somebody to love them and look after them, they are extremely good pets, because they are so loyal, and so grateful to find a warm place with food.”
Anyone interested in adopting Rubbish is encouraged to contact the South Peace Animal Hospital at 250-782-7297 or visit the clinic at 1500 101 Avenue.
Wendy Davies, manager of the SPCA’s South Peace Branch, said it is very important for pet owners to pay extra attention to their animals, especially those that spend time outdoors.
“Domestic animals are not made to be out in the cold weather without food and water,” said Davies. “Our most common concerns as the cold weather hits is animals that have water dishes that are frozen, or that are left without adequate shelter. A shelter has to be lifted off the ground and has to have some sort of insulation or heat source.”
She added there is a common misconception that pets with long or thick hair can be left outdoors in the cold without shelter, but she said that is not the case.
Even when pets are inside, Davies said the holiday season presents dangers to their health. She said spicy, greasy, salty and sweet foods that are common during the holidays are very bad for an animal’s health, and in the case of some items such as poultry bones or chocolate, can even be fatal. She added indoor vegetation such as poinsettias, holly, cedar, pine and mistletoe are all potentially toxic to animals, and decorations such as ornaments and garland can also be hazardous to pets left unattended.