Every Journey has to start somewhere

From this morning’s Herald

Feral felines gain champion
Animal rescuers trying to save cat colony
By GORDON DELANEY Valley BureauFri. Apr 10 – 4:46 AM
The Homeless Animal Rescue Team in Aylesford has rescued hundreds of cats, including this little one, named Avalon, who was recently placed in a good home. The non-profit group is now attempting to rescue a colony of feral cats at Harbourville. (GORDON DELANEY / Herald)
Laurie Wheeler isn’t getting much sleep these days.
That’s because she and members of a registered, non-profit animal rescue group in Aylesford are facing their biggest challenge — rescuing a colony of feral cats from certain demise.
Fishermen at Harbourville, a short drive north of Berwick, have been complaining about the cats for two years. It seems the cats are attracted to fish remains on the boats and garbage around the wharves.
No one knows how many cats there are in the colony, but estimates range from 12 to 30.
“The fishermen want them gone because they’re defecating all over their boats,” Ms. Wheeler, the president of the Homeless Animal Rescue Team said Wednesday.
“But euthanizing them is not the answer. If you take a cat colony away, it’s going to be replaced by another colony because there’s a food source there.”
Kings County council referred the matter to its animal control officer Wednesday. Animal welfare people now fear the cats will be trapped and euthanized.
Warden Fred Whalen confirmed the cat problem had been referred to animal control, but he did not know of any order to euthanize the felines.
Ms. Wheeler wants the cats trapped, tested for disease, neutered or spayed and returned to Harbourville.
Her group is trying to set up a meeting with the local fishermen.
“We need to find out how many cats are there.” she said.
If there are kittens, homes could possibly be found for them, she added.The job is huge for a small group that operates on donations and occasional fund-raising events, “but we can find a way,” she said.
Her group’s position was supported by the Nova Scotia SPCA. They circulated a letter to Kings County councillors, Wednesday, asking them to allow more time for the felines to be trapped and relocated.
In the letter SPCA director Mary Hill said humane efforts should be undertaken, particularly through trapping-neuter-return programs.
Euthanizing is an ineffective means of controlling feral cat colonies, she wrote.
“It can exacerbate the problem by allowing more cats to move into the area once occupied by the colony.”
Returning sterilized cats will work better to reduce unwanted colonies, she added.
Since its inception a year ago HART has rescued four dogs and 245 cats. Almost all of those cats have been tested for disease by a veterinarian, vaccinated, spayed or neutered and placed in good homes.
For anyone who is unacquainted with the issue, or who wants to brush up so they can explain the facts to their friends and neighbours, there is a wonderful article from the Feral Cat Activist, which is published by Alleycat Allies, http://www.alleycat.org/NetCommunity/Document.Doc?id=336 . It backs up the principles of TNR with solid scientific evidence that has been compiled in the last two decades.
Closer to home, feral cat activists in NS have been very pleased that SPCANS came out with an official position of support for Feral Cats and TNR Population Control Programs . This might not sound like a big deal, but when the situation arose with the Harbourville Cats, it gave the society the authority to send the letter from SPCANS to the Kings County Councillors. It also gave the Kings SPCA branch the support and credibility they needed to work with the Kings County for this and other feral cat situations.
Or to quote a friend of mine, “Isn’t it lovely to see our provincial SPCA finally acting like an SPCA?”
What time is it? Its still only the start of the journey…. but at least the boat has left the wharf.

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