The BC SPCA has secured a grant to provide a free spay and neuter program for cats in Campbell River.
The announcement, made by BC SPCA chief executive officer Craig Daniell, may not have been the big news some were expecting, but the grant will address a major problem, according to Daniell.
“There’s an overwhelming cat crisis in Campbell River,” Daniell said at the former Movie Gallery building Tuesday evening. “Unfortunately Campbell River has one of the largest populations of stray and feral cats anywhere in the province. It’s a very, very significant problem.”
The $157,920 grant from PetSmart Charities of Canada will enable the SPCA to sterilize at least 1,500 cats over the next two years. The surgeries will be offered free of charge to low-income pet owners and community cat caretakers, and will include a permanent identification tattoo on the cat’s ear.
The Merecroft Veterinary Clinic and Campbell River Veterinary Hospital will be providing spay and neuter surgeries at a discounted rate to stretch the grant. As well, the SPCA will be asking for a $30 donation from each pet guardian who brings their cat in for surgery. Daniell said he expects the program will greatly reduce the number of stray and feral cats in the city.
“We’ll be able to prevent the births of over 600 unwanted cats in Campbell River,” Daniell said. “The reality is, kittens can have kittens. Cats are probably one of the most successful breeding machines out there.”
Daniell said the BC SPCA is looking for temporary office space to run the program until it can lock down a location for its new pet adoption and education centre.
Some attendees at Tuesday’s meeting asked Daniell where the centre will be opening but Daniell said he was not in a position to make that announcement.
“We do have a particular property we’re quite interested in but we’re not going to divulge that right now,” Daniell said. “We want to ensure we’re able to go through the proper re-zoning process but stay tuned – we will present more information soon.”
Daniell said whichever property the SPCA ultimately chooses it will require a re-zoning.
Coun. Andy Adams, who was in attendance at the meeting, said when the BC SPCA comes forward with its chosen site, the city and council will work with the SPCA, “to do what we can do.”
Mayor Walter Jakeway, who also sat in on the meeting, said there’s also the difficulty of integrating the SPCA into an existing neighbourhood.
“People need to realize a re-zoning requires neighbourhood input and support,” Jakeway said.
“There’s the whole ‘not in my backyard’ (mentality).”
Stephanie Arkwright, manager of Campbell River’s future pet centre, said what some people may not realize is that the animal education and adoption centre will be run on a much smaller scale than the former SPCA shelter.
“There will be just a few dogs,” Arkwright said, noting she hopes to re-start the SPCA’s foster program so the dogs won’t be all be living at the centre.
Daniell confirmed that in the society’s other adoption and education centres – in Nelson, Port Coquitlam and Richmond – there aren’t 20 or 30 barking dogs.
“Really, there is no issue with respect to barking,” he said.