FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The North Peace SPCA is encouraging local pet owners to spay and neuter their feline companions after sheltering nearly 500 cats last year.
Branch Manager Candace Buchamer said that in total, the animal shelter took in 487 cats, which is a 64 percent increase over the number of cats in 2016. Buchamer said that in her 20 years working for the SPCA, 2017 was notable because the shelter saw kittens being brought in every month of the year.
“There’s usually a ‘kitten season’ in the Spring and the Fall, but it followed all year long. There were kittens constantly. That was a huge problem last year for us, trying to intake all the kittens, and then spaying all the mom cats so that there were no more kittens.”
Buchamer explained that the SPCA wants to spread the word of the large number of pets that the SPCA has rescued in the last year as the explanation for the shelter’s long waiting list to bring pets in. She said that many in the community have been expressing frustration at not being able to drop off their pets for adoption.
“We are trying, its just we aren’t not able to deal with it all by ourselves. We really do need the community to step up and be part of it, whether its by seeking spay and neuter assistance. Unfortunately we don’t have a specific low income where it’s absolutely free, but we do have options out there, we are willing to help people with that. All they need to do is give us a call.”
Buchamer explained that the need for space at the shelter has gotten to the point where a number of cats were moved to shelters in Southern B.C. last weekend with the Drive for Lives program. The program was started in the Lower Mainland to deal with large influxes of rescued animals, especially when officers seized mistreated animals from pet hoarders.
However, she said that several after its inception it became apparent that shelters in northern and remote communities were constantly getting overwhelmed with cats in particular, and the program was expanded to help those shelters more options to deal with large numbers of animals.
According to Buchamer, the SPCA has noticed that cats tend to be more of a problem due to their being seen as more disposable pets than others.
“We have families that will leave, they will take their dogs with them and they will leave their cats. We have people who, if a cat comes into heat and becomes pregnant and they don’t want to deal with that, they kick it outside. Then it becomes pregnant and we have it with a bunch of kittens. A lot of people see them as a nuisance because there’s no control.”
Buchamer feels that bylaws requiring owners to get their cats equipped with identification such as a microchip or a tattoo would help accountability.
For more information about spaying or neutering pets, and to inquire about ways to help the Drive for Lives program, call the North Peace SPCA Tuesday – Saturday from noon to 4:00 at (250) 785-7722.