Cats flying out the door in shelter-pet store partnership

Barb Sweet
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Maggie the cat looks unimpressed when a dog strolls up to check her out.

But otherwise, the three-year-old grey tiger stripe is nonchalantly biding her time in her spacious kennel at PetSmart on Stavanger Drive in St. John’s.

Nearby, Tetley, a ginger-coloured kitten goes back to sleep, unfazed by the visit from the canine, who was there with its owner.

If the statistics so far are any indication, it’s likely Maggie and Tetley, and other cats temporarily living in the store, won’t be around for long.

Since PetSmart opened the second week of May, 58 cats have been  adopted as of Tuesday morning.

SPCA volunteer adoption co-ordinator Cheryl Ellis and store manager Mark Braybrook were expecting to hit 60 by at least Thursday.

“That’s more than one a day, which is absolutely fantastic,” Braybrook noted, standing under a tally board indicating 4.6 million animals have been adopted out from PetSmart’s stores in North America through its charity arm since the chain opened 26 years ago.

The chain has never sold dogs or cats, but instead partners with pet adoption non profits. In St. John’s, the animals come from the SPCA.

“We’re just so happy,” Ellis said.

“These guys have been great and really easy to work with. Anything we need, we get.”

Some are kittens, but there are older cats up for adoption also.

Maggie, who is spayed, came to the SPCA when her owner passed away.

The success of the program in St. John’s has been remarkable, Ellis and Braybrook agreed.

“If we were able to keep that average throughout all the stores, that’s an astronomical number,” Braybrook said.

Store staff tend to the animals, clean their spaces and the food is provided by Purina.

“They are given everything. They’re checked on several times during the day. They get adequate exercise. They’re just doing really well,” Ellis said, adding any pet uncomfortable in the store setting would be brought back to the SPCA shelter.

But none have been around more than two weeks before being adopted, Braybrook noted.

The plan is to feature dogs on the weekends, but the need is much greater for cats.

They’ve only had dogs over once so far since the store opened, as usually there’s already an adoption application waiting on shelter dogs.

“Our cat population is just explosive. They are really the problem for us,” Ellis said.

“Our adoptable dogs will find homes. We have so many cats. Last year we had close to 1,400 come through the door.”

Adoption fees for both dogs and cats are $125 each.

That includes a vet exam, first vaccination, tests for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus, deworming, flea treatment, microchip, SPCA identification tag and 30 days’ pet insurance.

“If you went to a clinic to have all those things done, it would cost a lot,” Ellis said.

The adoption agreement requires the successful adoption applicant have the pet spayed or neutered.

Rather than the shelter, which is open only a few hours on the weekends, the store is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week and Sunday, 12-5 p.m.

When SPCA volunteers aren’t there, store staff can help people fill out applications.

“The SPCA has done a great job in making sure the program is able to run effectively,”Braybrook said.

Organizations: PetSmart

Geographic location: North America

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Recent comments

  • MyTwoDeadCats
    July 07, 2011 - 16:43

    For YaRight and Blind. The two of you are living in la la land and have no clue how a not-for-profit organization spends to operate a clean, healthy shelter for animals that need help. Since you are so keen on bashing PetSmart and the SPCA for coming together to increase the adoption rate for animals why don't you put your money where your mouth is and either volunteer at the SPCA or donate a healthy amount of money so that the SPCA can hire a professional advertizing agency. Would that be preferable to you??? The SPCA can only adopt to those people who come to the shelter. By using the PetSmart venu these abandoned, homeless animals get a much higher view rate than they would ever receive being kept at the Shelter. Yes, PetSmart makes money on those who come to view these lost animals but both SPCA and PetSmart gain in positive ways for helping each other out. It's incredible how some people can easily bash a good thing without really understanding the situation.

  • mary
    July 06, 2011 - 20:35

    MyTwoDeadCats, perhaps you don't have a problem with pets pooping in your garden/yard, but others do. I agree that cats, like dogs, should be licensed and required to be indoors. Many cities across Canada require this and as a owner of two cats, one from the SPCA and one rescued, I had no problems complying. I don't like going out to my flower and veggie containers and finding cat poop in them just as I don't like having to avoid dog poop on the sidewalk. I have tried various means to stop the cats, none of them have worked. Meantime, this partnership is great for the SPCA on many levels. Great news for the many abandoned, lost and relinquished pets.

  • Yeah Right
    July 06, 2011 - 16:33

    Brenda ,go volunteer at the SPCA ,not the box stores , again falling for the box store hook ,line and sinker,like "Blind" said. whats wrong with the SPCA .maybe some new management or something ?, I don't know. why can't they adopt out 58 cats?. It sure makes the SPCA look bad when all of a sudden,bam 58 cats adopted.I got no beef with getting cats adopted, it's the way these stores do it . it's all about the money,not the cats. if you can't see's not about the nay sayers , most are missing the point.

  • Brenda
    July 06, 2011 - 13:15

    I adopted a kitten at PetSmart in May and he has been a wonderful,entertaining ,joy-inducing member of our household ever since. Little Max was found with his mommy and siblings under a shed and thankfully all were brought to the SPCA by a kind person. I already had two shelter cats and an SPCA dog ( all spaded and neutured!!!!) but myself and my kids couldn't resist Max. Without PetSmart ,I doubt we would have ever seen him. The cats are so much more accessible there! The adoption process was easy and enjoyable. Customers in the store actually came up to us as we were leaving and thanked us for giving Max a home. I think this is a win-win situation and I'm so overjoyed 58 beautiful cats have gotten the homes they deserve. As for naysayers-somebody has to be negative,what else is new???? So what if it is a big box store? As long as the animals are content,healthy and well-cared for is all anyone should worry about. If you're so concerned,volunteer your time there and see first-hand if the cats are lacking anything. Step up or shut up. Thank you from the bottem of my heart to the SPCA and PetSmart for all you've done for my Max and all the other beautiful felines!!!!! :)

  • Blind
    July 06, 2011 - 13:13

    I agree with you "Yeah Right". they aready got "Karen Spencer " hook ,line and sinker . just the reason they do this kind of so called partnership. I wonder if I dropped a stray would petsmart take it or would they send me to the SPCA? petsmart does this all across the country because they have an alternative reason. MONEY.... and Dawn , Adequate space ? is that all the space a cat needs? give me a break....

  • just like unlimited
    July 06, 2011 - 12:59

    yeah right , MYTWODEADCATS, why don't you just shut down the SPCA will ya. (not. ) You wouldn't have to move the cats if "Smart Unlimited" just pointed them to the shelter. Like I said, just another big box store scam. Ask them to spay or neuter the animals and see what kind of answer you get. no money in that !!!!!!! OPEN YOUR EYES and you'll see who really cares about animals.

  • Glenda Hearn Ellis
    July 06, 2011 - 11:15

    I visited PetSmart the past weekend and I was so impressed with the adoption program. The cats are well taken care of and each cat has it's own "biography", stating the circumstances of their arrival at the SPCA. Way to go PetSmart and way to go Cheryl for all your hard work and dedication!!!

  • Anon
    July 06, 2011 - 09:49

    They are not taking animals from "puppy mils" as some big pet stores do they are helping strays and unwanted animals find a loving home. What is the problem with that? As for taking them back to the shelter at night - Why? For some animals the trip would be stressful and it is also unnecessary. There are people who can get to Stavanger drive, but not to the SPCA. I think this is a great program and it is giving many animals a longer and happier life. Pet Smart does this across the country, keep up the good work Pet Smart & SPCA!

  • Laura
    July 06, 2011 - 09:47

    Way to go! So happy to hear that a large scale company is partnering with the local SPCA. Fanstastic news, keep up the great job!!

  • Dawn
    July 06, 2011 - 09:17

    GREAT JOB PETSMART. I'm sure the SPCA can use all the help it can get. I looked at the cats in the store last night. All cats were asleep. they looked quite content. Clean surroundings and more than adequate space.

  • dawn
    July 06, 2011 - 08:59

    "JUSTLIKE"..What the heck is the difference in keeping them at the SPCA or PETSMART? Do you really think that the SPCA staff are there 24/7? At least they are selling animals that otherwise may get euthanized. It is better than someone buying a cat , to only let it outside to get pregnant again . At least they have to be fixed within a given period . Yes it is a big box store but at least these dogs and cats are not coming from the good ol puppy mills !!

  • Sabrina
    July 06, 2011 - 08:56

    I think this is awesome way to help get more animals adopted! The SPCA has such limited hours it would be difficult for most people to go visit there. And transporting the animals back and forth would only stress them out. And because there are so many being adopted, they are not staying at the store for too long. I look forward to adopting a kitty myself!

  • badameli
    July 06, 2011 - 08:52

    I just wish there was a way to keep the darned cats out of my yard. Really wish there was a by-law that penalized people for letting their pets out unsupervised. If it's your cat - you should have to deal with it - not me. I should have to deal with poop in my flowers or cat fights in my yard. And enough with the dog poop on the sidewalk.

  • Bev
    July 06, 2011 - 08:32

    The main thing is that the animals are finding a home. A short stay in a big box store is better then a long or permanent stay at the shelter. I think people are missing the whole point here, and that is the animals are finding a home. Great job!!

    • JT
      July 06, 2011 - 09:22

      Agreed! This is an excellent venue for people to see the cats available for adoption. If it results in finding GOOD homes for the cats then that is a very positive result. I took in strays and gave them a good home and they in turn have given me companionship. Incidentally, I wouldn't let the negative comments here bother me, some people thrive on negativity, this story has simply provided another avenue for these people to vent their contrary point of view yet again.

  • Getreal
    July 06, 2011 - 08:19

    Animals are finding homes, that's all that matters. Get a grip.

  • Anna
    July 06, 2011 - 07:28

    Congratulations to the workers of the SPCA and PetSmart for this wonderful program. It is so nice to read a good news story.

    • MyTwoDeadCats
      July 06, 2011 - 09:39

      I dare say those of you who have commented negatively have no clue as to what an animal goes through being shuffled from one place to another. How would you like to be put in a cage every morning and every evening being jostled around in a vehicle twice a day. Let's try to understand that it also takes several volunteers to do all of this. At least the SPCA is attempting to reduce the need to spend hundreds of dollars dealing with euthanasia on a weekly basis. It is so much more important to save lives and find homes for animals. The fact that the SPCA has found homes for 58 animals in such a short period of time should be celebrated and those involved should receive a whopping pat on the proverbial back. What needs to be realized is that all of us need to be responsible pet owners and spay & neuter all of our pets no matter what. Then, we might see the end of cats and dogs at city dumps starving to death and realizing no sense of love in the world. In regards to a bi-law, there is one, and it is being enforced. However, those of you who have gardens need to get a grip and find safe ways of deterring cats from defecating in your gardens. I have six gardens on my property and no problem with animals. What's your problem??? Look up methods on the internet or find a book. The next thing we'll hear is that people want a bi-law to shoot birds out of the sky because they are pooping on our cars.

  • yeah Right
    July 06, 2011 - 07:04

    good excuse to get animals in the big box stores. do the right thing and send the people to the SPCA, thats why they are there. no different than the" unlimited" how stupid do you think the public is ???????

    • Beaner
      July 06, 2011 - 12:22

      To: Yeah Right What do you mean they are no different than the other big box stores? These stores don't SELL animals. They don't carry dogs and cats that have come from mills. Instead, they partner with animal shelters to provide homes for shelter animals that need them the most. They're cutting costs for the animal shelters because their programs provide care, food AND 30 days of free pet insurance. If you knew anything about these organisations, you wouldn't be making such baseless, ignorant comments. As for Justlike Unlimited -- these stores actually have longer hours than the shelter, as they rely solely on volunteers to come by and take care of them. Having a full compliment of staff from 10-10 is actually better than being in a shelter. Not to mention the fact that their pens are bigger and have less animals than what is available at the SPCA.

  • justlike unlimited
    July 06, 2011 - 07:00

    Looks like some things never change.... keeping animals over night at a box store. why not send them back to SPCA in the evening (the're just around the corner) or better again,just send the adopt-tees to the shelter.that's what their for. just another scam ...

  • Karen Spencer
    July 06, 2011 - 06:54

    That's really fabulous. I applaud PetSmart for working with the SPCA to help find homes for cats and dogs. The next time I need pet supplies, I know where I will be going! And as Bob Barker says, "Help control the pet population. Have your pet spayed or neutered."