Fur bear­ing

Shel­ter strain un­re­lent­ing

The Amherst News - - FRONT PAGE - BY CHRISTOPHER GOOD­ING christopher.good­ing@tc.tc Twit­ter: @ADNchris

It’s been a lit­tle more than two months since Michelle Hicks and Carma is­sued the call for more to be done to curb an over­pop­u­la­tion of cats in Amherst.

In that time the tem­per­a­tures have got­ten colder and the num­ber of aban­doned cats at Carma’s tem­po­rary shel­ter have re­mained con­stant, but, there have been some pos­i­tives.

“Cer­tainly more aware­ness. We’ve had calls, and in­ter­est­ingly enough we’ve had adop­tions,” Hicks says.

Carma of­fers op­tions when it comes to re­hom­ing aban­doned cats. Af­ter each cat’s med­i­cal needs are ad­dressed, Carma of­fers a foster pro­gram as well as adop­tions, and the or­ga­ni­za­tion will take back the pet if cir­cum­stances change.

Hicks is wor­ried history may re­peat it­self, how­ever. Last win­ter 18 cats were aban­doned and the num­bers at in the shel­ter grew quickly. This win­ter, vol­un­teers may be turn­ing away aban­doned cats, but they are not turn­ing a blind-eye.

“We’re al­ready at ca­pac­ity, the shel­ter is full,” Hicks said. “If we don’t get help with fos­ters or adop­tions we’re not go­ing to be able to man­age this win­ter. There are go­ing to be cats, sadly, left out­doors that have no op­tions ... ev­ery­body is in a cri­sis mode.”

One of the is­sues con­tribut­ing to the over­pop­u­la­tion is peo­ple get­ting pets be­fore they are set­tled into a long-term liv­ing ar­range­ment. Mov­ing from home to home, apart­ment to apart­ment runs up against a sec­ond is­sue – land­lords, soured by the ex­pe­ri­ence of bad pet own­er­ship, re­fus­ing pets.

“A small group can ruin it for the larger group,” Hicks said. “A lot of peo­ple who don’t spay or neuter, or leave an apart­ment dam­aged – male cats in par­tic­u­lar who spray – have caused land­lords to say ‘We don’t want pets in here.’ So what hap­pens is when th­ese peo­ple are tran­sient and they have to move and can’t find a place to go that ac­cepts pets they leave them be­hind.”

In the last month, it has been an is­sue Hicks has dealt with four times and in all cases where she is con­tacted to deal with aban­doned pets she gets the ten­ants’ in­for­ma­tion and re­ports it to the SPCA. In some cases charges have been laid, but th­ese do lit­tle to fix the present prob­lem. Right now, Hicks pegs the feral and aban­doned cat pop­u­la­tion in Cum­ber­land County in the thou­sands.

“It’s stag­ger­ing what two cats can pro­duce over seven years be­tween them­selves and their prog­eny – their cats hav­ing cats, hav­ing more cats.”

To help or learn more look for search for Carma Amherst’s Face­book page.


De­spite find­ing new homes for some of the shel­ter’s in­hab­i­tants, the wait­ing list to find a warm spot at Carma Amherst’s tem­po­rary shel­ter is on­go­ing. Chap­ter pres­i­dent Michelle Hicks is con­cerned with­out more ac­tion from com­mu­nity lead­ers the is­sue will not re­solve it­self.

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