TROUBLED EYES- Erica Coomber

Local shelter frustrated by owners’ lack of responsibility

One local animal shelter is urging Red Deerians to be more responsible with their pets, especially as the weather gets colder.

Erica Coomber, shelter administrator for Riverside Kennels and Alberta Animal Services said they have seen an increase in cats being turned into the shelter and many of them look malnourished and have been physically affected by the cold weather often having frostbite.

“Cats coming in is never ending,” she said. “But if people see a cat outside straying around, they need to bring them here. It’s better than being outside freezing to death.”

Coomber added cats frequently go under decks or in the insulation of trailers to try and get warm.

“When they come to us, often they are in really bad shape,” she said. “And the sad thing is the claim rate for cats is extremely low. Ninety per cent of cats aren’t claimed whereas 90 per cent of dogs are.”

Coomber added if a person sees a stray cat to try and catch it or to report it to Alberta Animal Services.

Meanwhile, the Red Deer and District SPCA currently has 120 cats on its waiting list to be admitted into the shelter.

“People are caring for these animals but the wait list is about two to three months long,” said Julie McInnis, executive director for the SPCA.

There are also 110 cats currently in the SPCA waiting to be adopted.

“It is an extreme number of cats. It’s average for us but it’s our maximum capacity,” said McInnis. “We are almost always full.”

She added part of the problem is that cat owners allow their felines to be outside and notice their absence two or three days later, or sometimes even weeks later.

“When it gets to -30C or -40C, cats that are living under decks and in little spots start coming to people’s homes because it’s the only hope they have for survival,” said McInnis. “They get skinny, malnourished and cold.”

She attributes part of the problem to advertisements for free kittens.

“Some people won’t know where their cat is and won’t try to find them and then they’ll just go and get another free one,” she said.

In addition, dog licenses for 2011 are available.

If owners purchase their licenses at the Red Deer SPCA, $7.50 of the fee goes directly back to the shelter.

The annual license fee is $26 for altered dogs and $56 for unaltered dogs.

efawcett@reddeerexpress.com

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