A plan to ‘fix’ over­pop­u­la­tion

Car­bon­ear ac­tivist hopes to be­gin spay/neuter pro­gram for lower in­come house­holds

The Compass - - ANIMAL CONTROL - BYMELISSA JENK­INS

It is not un­com­mon to walk the streets of Car­bon­ear on any given day and see sev­eral roam­ing an­i­mals — do­mes­tic pets and strays.

Some­times th­ese an­i­mals get taken in — tem­po­rar­ily and per­ma­nently — while oth­ers stay on the streets.

An­i­mal lover and lo­cal ac­tivist Ju­lia Har­ring­ton, who has nu­mer­ous pets of her own, has taken in an­i­mals of all types at all dif­fer­ent times of the year to en­sure an an­i­mal has a good tem­po­rary home be­fore be­ing placed in a per­ma­nent home. But the spring is when she sees an over­whelm­ing num­ber of kit­tens with nowhere to go.

“As soon as spring comes, the shel­ters are full, the fos­ter homes are scarce and my phone will ring off the hook with pet own­ers, who now have kit­tens who need a home,” Har­ring­ton ex­plained. “I just don’t have an op­tion for them any­more. Only so many homes are avail­able and I have no choice but to sug­gest to have them eu­th­a­nized.”

She con­tin­ued, ex­plain­ing it is a more hu­mane prac­tice than to al­low them to live their lives as out­side strays, where they will con­tinue to have more kit­tens with­out homes.

Pro­mot­ing the cause

The idea of over­pop­u­la­tion of pets is how Har­ring­ton be­gan think­ing about get­ting as­sis­tance from res­i­dents in the Town of Car­bon­ear. She is hop­ing to help cre­ate a sub­si­dized pro­gram that will as­sist lo­cals to spay or neuter their pets.

“I’m cur­rently look­ing for some other peo­ple to help out with fundrais­ing (and as­sis­tance) to help with costs,” Har­ring­ton said.

The pro­gram is some­thing she be­lieves will need the sup­port of coun­cil.

“I’m go­ing to be ap­proach­ing coun­cil in the near fu­ture in start­ing up (the) pro­gram for this area to help cut down on the amount of cats,” she said. “We all know ve­teri­nary costs are very ex­pen­sive. And of course, I want the coun­cil’s sup­port. Hope­fully it will be some­thing

As soon as spring comes, the shel­ters are full, the fos­ter homes are scarce and my phone will ring off the hook with pet own­ers, who now have kit­tens who need a home.

— Ju­lia Har­ring­ton

other coun­cils will take on for their ar­eas, see­ing as St. Johns al­ready of­fers (it).”

The pro­gram Har­ring­ton was re­fer­ring to is the “spay/neuter as­sis­tance pro­gram” St. John’s of­fers those with low-in­come house­holds.

It cur­rently gives those with a com­bined fam­ily net in­come of $25,000 or less, sin­gle par­ent house­holds with $25,000 or less, sin­gle peo­ple mak­ing $15,000 or less and those 65 years and older re­ceiv­ing the Guar­an­teed In­come Sup­ple­ment, the spay and neu­ter­ing ser­vice and li­cense at a dis­counted rate — $120 for dogs and $85 for cats.

In 2013, the pro­gram as­sisted 229 house­holds with spay/neu­ter­ing ser­vices, up from 96 in 2009.

Har­ring­ton said the pro­gram would only need some fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance from the town, the rest could be or­ga­nized by vol­un­teers.

In­come shouldn’t be an is­sue

Fel­low an­i­mal lover Kristy Reynolds has joined the cause.

“I think that the spay and neuter pro­gram is an amaz­ing idea and well needed in this area,” she told The Com­pass.

She supports the idea, not just for pop­u­la­tion con­trol, but be­cause she be­lieves in­come does not de­ter­mine if some­one can be a good pet owner.

“Some peo­ple think you can­not be a good par­ent to an­i­mals if you can­not af­ford to get them (spayed or neutered),” she con­tin­ued. “But (those of lower in­come) love and spoil them so much, and care for them more than any­one could imag­ine. Any help would beat try­ing to do it on your on in a fixed or lower in­come sit­u­a­tion.

“In the end, we will have less strays roam­ing around, get­ting hurt and car­ry­ing in­fec­tion, and more healthy fur ba­bies to love and ap­pre­ci­ate.”

Har­ring­ton agrees that in­come should not del­e­gate if some­one gets a pet.

“I don’t think it’s a fair as­sump­tion to say, ‘if you can af­ford a pet, don’t get one,’ be­cause I know ex­treme an­i­mal lovers who are on fixed in­comes who make the best own­ers,” she ex­plained.

Other op­tions

Out­side the po­ten­tial as­sis­tance pro­gram, there are other op­tions for pet own­ers who would like to have their pets spayed or neutered, but also if some­one is look­ing to give up, fos­ter or adopt a pet.

Laura-Lee His­cock — op­er­a­tor of the lo­cal chap­ter of the SPCA — said there are many res­i­dents that are un­aware there is a chap­ter avail­able on the Bac­calieu Trail or the ser­vices it pro­vides.

“Some­times there’s a mis­con­cep­tion that if (pet own­ers) are call­ing the SPCA, their an­i­mals are go­ing to be put to sleep,” she ex­plained. “That’s the last re­sort.”

The SPCA has been very suc­cess­ful in the area, His­cock said, not­ing most an­i­mals that have made their way to the or­ga­ni­za­tion have ei­ther been fos­tered or adopted. Only a few have been eu­th­a­nized, mainly due to ill­ness.

Cat Con­cerns Inc. is an or­ga­ni­za­tion in Con­cep­tion Bay North that has joined forces with the SPCA to as­sist in spay­ing and neu­ter­ing cats. They of­fer a lower rate for those who can­not af­ford the full price of hav­ing the pro­ce­dure done.

The or­ga­ni­za­tions are fundrais­ing for a shel­ter in the area be­cause they do not have a phys­i­cal lo­ca­tion for an­i­mals. The SPCA even works with other shel­ters in the prov­ince if a fos­ter or adopted home isn’t found right away.

His­cock stresses for peo­ple to re­search their op­tions, or con­tact the SPCA, be­fore get­ting rid of their pet or hav­ing them put down.

“Any­one who wants in­for­ma­tion can con­tact us with ques­tions on an­i­mals,” she said.

His­cock can be reached at bt­spca@hot­mail.com or through the Face­book page Bac­calieu Trail SPCA.

“We are al­ways open to new peo­ple and new fos­ter homes,” she added.

Photo sub­mit­ted by the Bac­calieu Trail SPCA

Th­ese two kit­tens were born to a feral cat. Gin­ger (left), his sis­ter Molly (right) and the rest of the lit­ter (not shown) all found homes with the help of the Bac­calieu Trail SPCA.

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