Sunday July 18, 2010

Local News


A Catastrophic Problem

Chilliwack Cat Crisis Critical

Craig Hill/Voice



e listened to Bob Barker on the Price is Right tell us for 35-years to spay or neuter our pets. Some people didn't hear his message or they've forgotten it and we have an emergency in Chilliwack. The situation is critical there are too many cats.


Currently, local animal shelters are maxed-out with felines and scrambling to find homes for them. These shelters are like lifeboats on a sinking ship where the lucky ones get in and the rest fend for themselves


Gayle Brunt, Office Coordinator for the Chilliwack Animal Safe Haven Society told the Voice in an e-mail that they are running at capacity with 120 cats and aren't taking anymore.



Brunt says they are on their own without help from the City of Chilliwack who doesn't "take responsibility" for strays and feral cats.


"There is a crisis in Chilliwack at the moment with regards to stray and unwanted cats as I take on average 10 calls per week from people asking me if I can take more cats in," said Brunt.


She says not enough people take advantage of the Haven's reduced medical fee for spaying and neutering.


"If more people used it we would certainly alleviate the problem in the City," said Brunt.           


According to Marion Hewko, Region 8 Rep for Dogs Deserve Better, the feline population explosion is not the cat's fault.


Hewko told the Voice in an e-mail that the proliferation of cats is actually a human failing.


"It is a people problem, but most definitely we have a huge problem," said Hewko. "People do not spay and neuter their cats and are not proactive when the kittens go to a new home, they do not spay and neuter the kittens either, it is a vicious circle."


There is a large feral feline population in Chilliwack and Hewko said they've been around for a long time and one way to get control of the situation would be a Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) program.



"I would love to see a TNR program in place, ferals have been around for hundreds of years and they multiply fast," said Hewko, adding that "There are feral cats in alleys, by stores, restaurants, rivers and once these ferals were house cats but have turned wild due to lack of human contact."


Ferals aren't suited for domestication. Hewko says it's difficult to make a feral cat an indoor cat, so she would like to see a proper TNR in place in Chilliwack that would be complete with feeding stations and supervision by volunteers.


Another thing that Hewko says is long overdue are licences for cats.


"I think it is time to license the cats owned by residents in Chilliwack, and make a mandatory spay and neuter program," said Hewko.


Should cat owners be subject to the same rules as dog and have owners licence their cats? The money collected from the licences would help pay for the costs of trapping and housing homeless cats. It could also be a way to make cat owners take more responsibility for their cats.


Worldwide, the percentage of homeless cats and dogs has been estimated at up to 80-per-cent. In the wild, cats can proliferate quickly. In just 7-years, a single cat and her young can produce 420,000 kittens.


Some countries deal with strays more harshly. For example last week, news reports from Baghdad said an estimated 58,000 stray dogs had been shot or poisoned in and around the Iraqi capital over the last 3-months in an effort to bring the problem under control quickly.


In North America, the system is more humane and we try harder to adopt. Last year, the BCSPCA found more than 12,000 homes for cats.


Last week, Ivanna Ferris, Chilliwack SPCA Branch Manager, made a plea for homes on 98.3 StarFm, saying they are inundated with felines and are doing an extra "adoption push."


"We have around 80 cats right now," said Ferris. "It's a lot of cats and many many of those are kittens."


From time to time, some areas of the province have too many cats and the SPCA can be shift them to areas with shelters that have fewer available to "re-home."


"The Drive For Live Program is one that the SPCA is very proud of," said Ferris adding that "We're able to give those animals an extra chance at finding a home."


However most of the SPCA's cats in Chilliwack are coming from people who have no time or can't look after a cat any longer. Some even trap strays and bring them in.


If residents suspect they have feral cats in the neighbourhood, humane traps are available for rent and the animal can be taken to the SPCA for care.


Domestic felines can live to be up to 20-years if they are kept healthy with regular veterinary care. A fat cat might have health issues like diabetes or joint problems. When the SPCA gets an overweight cat in they are put on a weight-reduction diet.


Cats are fine indoors and don't need to be outside. However, many cat owners allow their pets to roam neighbourhoods freely. The problem is then exacerbated by both feral and domestic cats that can decimate neighbourhood bird populations. The fallout is that animal rehabilitation facilities like Elizabeth's Wildlife Centre in Abbotsford are overrun with injured birds.


Those interested in providing a home for a cat can contact:


The Chilliwack Animal Safe Haven Society is at 49843 Chilliwack Central Rd., 604-794-7233 or for more information e-mail Gayle here or visit their website:


For information on Chilliwack dog adoptions e-mail Marion here or visit their website: 


Other sites with local adoption photos:



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