Out of the comfort zone ….

I love little Dora!    What is not to love?   She is gentle and affectionate and follows me around like a little puppy!  Even better, she is brilliant enough to understand that the great outdoors is a dangerous place for a cat these days.   Best of all of course is that the time it took to build enough trust to even touch her was a shared journey that has created a very special bond between us.

It has been four years this month since I caught my first glimpse of my clever, clever girl.   Barely bigger than the bird she had caught and so starved I could not begrudge her such a hard-won meal 😦  .

For every Dora who finds a safe harbour … for every feral cat lucky enough to belong to a tended colony …. and for every stray cat who charms their way into someone’s heart … the sad reality is that there are hundreds more much Unhappier Tails for the kitties!

Why?   Is it because there is no ‘app’ for that?    Has it been top-secret information that the solution (spay neuter) is simple?    Or has it just been a hot potato that politicians have tossed back and forth between levels of government …. in the hopes that voters will lose interest?

Why does Annapolis County provide any support (see story below) for animal rescue?    Are they more evolved?   Or was it simply that hard-working advocates took the time and trouble to explain the benefits of TNR to the county council and apply for a grant?     Or that CAPS was initially created by a backlash of voter fury at the stories of dogs being shot at the pound?

Now before the keyboards catch on fire …. yes I know that Annapolis County is not the only place providing support for TNR and / or rescue.    Yes, I know that it has been a long time since there have been any dogs listed on Petfinder with CAPS at all.   And yes … I am aware that CAPS does not always take all the cats from the pound either.

The secret to success for any organization is its ability to recognize the need for change.    There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that CAPS keeps good records and that its volunteers love the animals in their care.     Love them so much as a matter of fact that they have a firm policy that their adoptables could not possibly attend any events without their foster pawrents.

What does that mean in realspeak?   Why of course that we will never see CAPS kitties living in one of those darned pet store satellite adoption centers that other rescues have found so helpful …. sigh!     Not to be mean, but no matter how delightful the digs, there is a whole world of kind hearts who will never go up over the North Mountain in search of a cat, eh?

That also means that if there is a weekend adoption event at the mall, the only kitties that will be seen by potential adopters are those whose foster pawrents are free to attend … sigh.     Having the lowest adoption fees and a BOGO would be more helpful if more kind hearts actually had a chance to meet their adorable adoptables in furson, eh?

But I am wandering afield, as I often do in my meandering way.     The point I am trying to make today is to remind everyone that an ounce of prevention is better value than a pound of cure!

Somewhere  in the midst of all the budgetary debates, it is to be hoped that Annapolis County will entertain the idea of spay neuter chits for kind hearts who take in strays.  That could reduce the number of cats who are impounded … which in turn would reduce CAPS’ load.      (The sticky subject of the sensible possibility of  the CAPS cat cottages perhaps eventually evolving into a palliative care facility for special needs and seniors should sit on the shelf for another day, eh? )

What time is it?   It is always time to applaud Councillors trying to create better communities by offering more humane outcomes for the animals!

Those who expect moments of change to be comfortable and free of conflict have not learned their history.  Joan Wallach Scott

from the Annapolis County Spectator

Cats Attract Attention

Published on January 17, 2013

By Stephen Hawboldt

Annapolis County councillors were told at their committee of the whole last week that there is a burgeoning problem with stray and feral cats and that a broad program of spaying and neutering may be the only long term solution.

A county staff report highlighted the problems surrounding feral and stray cats in the municipality and offered possible remedies. It noted that Annapolis County is one of only two rural municipalities that have programs to address stray cats. The possibility of ignoring the issue did not seem to be an option councillors were willing to entertain at this time.

So far this year, the county animal control has received 233 cat complaints, up almost 40 per cent from two years ago. The council was told that the calls have been overwhelming to the point that dog kennels have been used to house mother cats with kittens. The report said, “the pound was not designed to house cats and only has five holding cages but staff has had up to 16 at one time.”

The municipality has an arrangement with the Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) to assist with stray dogs and cats although the focus has been on cats. The report notes that, “year after year, the number of unadopted cats grows.” When CAPS is unable to find adoptive homes, the cats are put in foster care with volunteers.

The report warns that CAPS may now be reaching the capacity of the volunteers to foster more cats. The group has, “no strategic plan established to expand their present operation nor confirm their continuation.”  The municipality contributes slightly more than $10,000 annually to CAPS.        

The municipality also contributes about $6,000 annually to Team TNR (Trap Neuter Release), a local charity aimed at humanely reducing cat populations. In a presentation to the council, Team TNR  told council that there is a serious cat overpopulation problem and that spay-neuter is, “the most effective and efficient way to tackle this problem.”

They told council that as their current funding was used up in October they could not respond to several serious situations. They say that by the time Team TNR intervenes this spring, the size of these colonies will be much larger.

They asked that the annual grant be increased to $12,000 stressing that, “every penny is spent only on spay-neuter.” This request will be discussed during the budget process.

Team TNR said that, “the large size of the cat population, its staggering growth potential and high vet charges for spay-neuter are the difficulties we face.” The group said that this operation can cost $380 to $420 at some clinics making this option unaffordable for many citizens. Team TNR uses a clinic in another part of the province where the charges are from $90 to $120 per animal.

Several other councillors expressed support for a spay-neuter program. Deputy Warden Marilyn Wilkins and Councillor Gregory Heming volunteered to investigate the veterinary cost concerns. This issue is likely to stay on the council agenda until budget time or longer.          

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