Pawz United Rescue Society (PURS) received $16,000 in donations, including an $8,000 grant from the BC SPCA for the Trap Neuter Release (TNR) program, PURS announced on Feb. 14.
“It’s not cheap running a rescue,” Kim St. Pierre, president of PURS, said. “We’ve spent upwards of $30,000 to $40,000 in veterinary bills, just in a year.”
The organization will use the funding to target specific cat colonies in Prince Rupert for neuter, vaccination and possible adoption.
“It’s huge,” Kim St. Pierre, president of PURS, said. “Without those funds, we’d be screwed.”
St. Pierre said the new funding influx would allow the society to fix upward of 30 to 50 stray, feral and abandoned cats. Female cats cost more to spay than males, so the total number of animals assisted is unknown.
With the funding in place, the organization can now set up their team, make sure their traps are functional and begin tackling their list of what needs to be done.
They currently have six traps to capture the cats, which are similar to regular pet cages but have a closing door mechanism. The plan is to purchase more. The traps are never left unattended and are constantly monitored, St. Pierre said. Volunteers also communicate with nearby residents about what is occurring.
The feral population in Prince Rupert is between 3,000 to 3,500 — possibly more, St. Pierre said, adding the TNR program serves a key role in keeping that population from growing out of hand as well as keeping it healthy.
When cats are left outside to fend for themselves and breed, they are susceptible to many diseases such as feline leukemia and influenza. Without neutering, infighting, inbreeding and infections can spread rapidly throughout the population. The program allows for a controlled population of feral cats and a healthier one, St. Pierre said.
“Kittens can die of simple things like colds,” she said.
Other infections can lead to pneumonia or blood poising from injuries. St. Pierre said that cats that aren’t taken care of often end up under porches or in people’s basements and die.
Each cat caught through the program will be vaccinated. If animals are tame, they will be microchipped and made available for adoption, similar to how the BC SPCA operates. Hundreds of adopters have been found throughout the province from Prince Rupert to Richmond, the president said.
Though the feline population is relatively high for the city, cats have a symbiotic relationship with residents and businesses, so having a healthy, stable population of cats is beneficial to the city, she said.
“They do serve a huge purpose,” St. Pierre said. “If you removed all the feral and stray cats and kittens from this city, we will be overrun with mice and rats.”
Norman Galimski | Journalist
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