Toronto Star


Saving hundreds of critters in 2013 flood has left Scarboroug­h animal rescue’s reserves in a state of emergency,


PAWS, a no-kill animal rescue organizati­on founded in Scarboroug­h in 1973, has launched an emergency fundraisin­g appeal.

Kimberly Heys, president of the volunteer-run registered charity, said it has only enough money to make it through to early next year.

“We’re incredibly hard up,” said Heys. “We have enough to get through January if we’re lucky. Somehow we’re going to have to manage.”

PAWS (Peoples Animal Welfare Society), which has no paid staff, hasn’t put out an emergency plea for donations since 2004.

But Heys said veterinary expenses for hundreds of animals rescued in spring 2013 from a property close to Huntsville have eaten up the charity’s reserves.

More than 200 cats and kittens that congregate­d on the property, behind an industrial area, were removed after heavy rains and a winter thaw combined to create heavy floods that triggered a state of emergency.

“There were eyeballs everywhere,” said Heys of the animals she saw there that had either been dumped or born on site. Renters who had lived on the property for 18 years were trying to feed the cats and kittens, but weren’t aware of the extent of the problem, she said.

Almost all of the animals have been spayed and neutered with the help of the Toronto Humane Society (THS), which also has a policy of not euthanizin­g animals unless they are in distress.

The cats were adopted out with the help of other rescue groups, given to foster homes across the province, or re-released to the property if they were too wild to be adopted.

Many were treated at the PAWS animal shelter in Huntsville, where the rescue group built a 3,300square-foot facility seven years ago on 4.5 acres.

“Because of our hard work, that’s why we need to reach out now,” said Heys.

Feral cats, such as those in Huntsville, are a problem in many communitie­s because of the expense of getting an animal spayed or neutered.

Vets can charge as much as $800 for the procedure in Northern Ontario, said Heys.

Toronto shelters and the city’s animal services division are exploring ways to go into remote northern communitie­s to spay and neuter ani- mals on-site at a much lower cost, said Barbara Steinhoff, executive director of the THS. “It’s really difficult to even access the service and incredibly expensive,” she said.

Toronto has an ongoing problem with feral cats that come into shelters at overwhelmi­ng rates.

The humane society is offering to neuter male cats for $20 in January as part of its Happy Neuter Year surgery blitz, made possible by a grant from PetSmart Charities of Canada.

In 2013, adoption rates for cats went up in Canada, according to a release from the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS), which collected statistics from 90 shelters.

The CFHS found that nearly one in four shelter cats were still being euthanized — down from 60 per cent in 1993.

In 2013, only 3.5 per cent of cats who ended up in shelters were reunited with their original families, a number that has never been higher than 5 per cent. Family dogs are nine times more likely to be reclaimed, according to CFHS. To make secure donations online to PAWS, visit the organizati­on’s website,,, or mail donations to PAWS, care of 2300 Lawrence Ave. E., Box 73039, Toronto, ON, M1P 2R2.

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 ?? KIMBERLY HEYS PHOTOS ?? Cats and kittens that were rescued in the spring of 2013 after heavy floods.
KIMBERLY HEYS PHOTOS Cats and kittens that were rescued in the spring of 2013 after heavy floods.
 ??  ?? A kitten rescued from the flood site in Huntsville by PAWS.
A kitten rescued from the flood site in Huntsville by PAWS.

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