A group of concerned animal lovers appeared before the District of Port Edward council on February 8 to ask the municipality’s help in getting a new animal shelter up and running to address concerns about feral cats in the community.
“Right now Port Edward faces a common problem in other communities with the overpopulation of feral and abandoned cats, and they are multiplying. Their offspring are often skittish which makes them hard to catch and treat and they then reproduce and multiply as well,” said Alice Kruta, noting that the overpopulation creates health concerns for the animals.
The group, known as the Cannery Row Animal Shelter board, asked council to gift land in the community for the construction of a shelter that would include a small building and a large, covered outdoor pen. According to Kruta, the shelter would be designed as a mini-cannery to help attract tourists, would be 100 per cent volunteer run and would operate as a non-profit society that also works to prevent the further spread of the cat population through a trap-neuter-release program.
One of the catalysts for wanting the shelter is what the group sees as increased abuse of the animals, citing kittens being stoned to death, found with broken necks, given anti-freeze, stuffed in bags and, in one instance, nailed to a tree.
“We think this is the time for Port Edward to shine in light of the international attention currently being placed on animal cruelty,” said Kruta, referring to the killing of sled dogs in Whistler.
“We are going to pursue this with a passion…We know we can do it because we are gung-ho with fundraising, and if it is in a good location and branded as a mini-cannery we could attract a lot of people with the name recognition who would donate.”
Council said they will look at what land is available in a location not too close to residential areas, with the group saying a budget for the project would need to wait until the location was known. And while supportive of the proposal, Mayor Dave MacDonald said he had some concerns about the fundraising and long-term support for the operation.
“We have two groups in town, the SPCA and the Prince Rupert Wildlife Shelter, that aren’t really getting the support they need to operate as they would like. How are you going to get the money when you are competing with two other similar entities for that same money,” he asked.
“In terms of the abuse, I’ve heard of incidents but nothing to the extent of what you are referring to…If you hear anything like this going on, the RCMP are the people to talk to and it is important that anyone seeing or hearing of animal cruelty call the RCMP.”
As well as a request for property, the Cannery Row Animal Shelter board asked that council pass a bylaw to license cats – something Mayor MacDonald noted has been met with minimal success in other municipalities due to the indoor nature of numerous cats.