The Campbell River Partners for Animals Welfare Society (PAWS) is offering to help limited-income individuals and families with the cost of spaying or neutering their cats to help reduce unwanted cat pregnancies and litters in the community.
Normally, it costs around $500 to spay or neuter a cat, which can be prohibitive for some people. But under the non-profit’s program that launched in March, anyone making less than $20,000 can have their cat fixed for free, while those making between $20,000 and $35,000 must pay just $50.
The program is intended to help manage the population of stray and feral cats in Campbell River, which can cause nuisance issues with homeowners, negative interactions with pets, disease transmission and wildlife mortality.
“What happens is people dump their cats out in the woods, and then we go out and trap them — it’s a vicious circle,” said Angela Caparelli, Campbell River PAWS president. “We are finding cats showing up at some locations where they weren’t before.”
Those interested in the program may download an application on the organization’s website, or pick up an application from several veterinarians or pet stores (see website). The program is funded by donations from corporate sponsorship (including GFL Environmental), individuals in the community, and other fundraisers. A network of veterinarians also support the program by donating part of the cost of the operations.
Campbell River PAWS responds to reports of these cats and then goes out and traps them. If the cats seem social, they are then fostered either into homes or alternatively, barns.
Feral cats that cannot be socialized are handled differently and instead are either spayed or neutered and then are released back into the wild. But these “community cats” are then still monitored by PAWS volunteers.
“We always make sure there’s food,” she said. “We have a group of volunteers in charge of feeding, and they all have their spot in their time slot.”