Advocates, veterinary clinic team up for feral cat blitz

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Barb Sweet
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More than two dozen cats spayed, neutered

Local animal activists are on a mission to help feral cats and in a few hours on a recent weekend, 27 animals were spayed or neutered and given medical attention.

Volunteers with Colony Care recently captured 27 feral cats in the Avalon region and brought them to the Torbay Road veterinary clinic in St. John’s to be spayed and neutered. — Submitted photo

“The whole staff was so positive. We can’t wait to do it again,” said Dr. Erin Wilson of the Torbay Road Animal Hospital, which is associated with Sunrise Animal Hospital in Mount Pearl.

Wilson and other staff volunteered their time, while company representatives donated veterinary medical supplies, including vaccines.

There were 31 staff  — including veterinarians and assistants —  from the two clinics who helped out, said organizer Michelle Kerfont, a registered veterinarian technician.

The project first came about when animal advocacy groups such as Pleas for Paws, Mollie’s Dream NL, Cross Our Paws Foundation and some rescuers who work on their own, sought to get help for feral cat colonies that have sprung up on the Avalon Peninsula. The groups don’t want to say where the colonies are for fear that people will drop off unwanted cats at the locations.

The groups formed Colony Care a few months ago, approached some vet clinics and Sunrise responded right away, said member Jackie McCormack.

“There are many feral cats as the result of people not having spayed/neutered animals and letting them roam, as well as the unfortunate neglectful situations where we see cats that have lived as pets being dumped because they are pregnant, or the owners move and leave them behind or they are just not cute kittens anymore,” McCormack said.

The clinic was so successful, the plan is to do another one soon with the target of spaying and neutering 50 cats, along with giving them other needed treatment.

While it’s only a small number of cats compared to the many who are roaming wild, Wilson said it will help the situation.

“I think ultimately you can reduce the number of cats that have multiple kittens giving birth,” she said.

Wilson said staff didn’t know what to expect when dealing with the feral cats, but she and organizer Kerfont said the clinic ran smoothly and was done in less than three hours.

“We were helping out ones who would not normally get attention,” Kerfont said.

“It was a feel good thing.”

The volunteers working with Colony Care had organized the borrowing of recovery kennels, donations of foods and the volunteers trapped the cats and delivered the animals to the clinic.

The cats were then returned to their colonies.

“These cat colonies are growing too quickly for the sake of the colony and most are struggling with a lack of food and sickness,” McCormack said.

“What we have found is that most people do really care and try to help these animals, but the sheer size of some of these colonies leaves one feeling helpless.”

Caretakers have been looking after a number of the colonies, supplying food and shelter and alerting the advocacy groups when the cats need medical attention, McCormack said, adding those with caretakers have a better chance of surviving and not freezing to death over the winter.

“The support for this has been tremendous as people are starting to become aware ‘that old stray cat’ was probably someone’s pet a week ago and as well that it is really not that difficult to help once people work together,” she said.

Both Wilson and McCormack urge people to get their pets spayed or neutered. Wilson also said any donations towards the Colony Care group’s work would help.

Organizations: Torbay Road Animal Hospital, Sunrise Animal Hospital, Paws Foundation

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Recent comments

  • Linda heppard
    October 30, 2013 - 18:09

    AWESOME...2 cats in 18 months can equal over 72 cats..do the math people..this is amazing..and so wonderful to see the Sunrise Animal Hospital involved and offering their services...So many animal rescues are out their now..

  • Mollie's Dream
    October 30, 2013 - 13:59

    we were thrilled to be a part of the Sunrise Feral Cat Initiative. Thanks to Sunrise Animal Hospital , especially Dr. Erin Wilson and Michelle Kerfont RVT for meeting with us to discuss this and then organizing so it could happen! Thanks too for your leadership in helping groups like us to establish a new approach to helping community cats through TNR., the only proven effective humane way to help cats have better lives.

  • Sharon Putt
    October 30, 2013 - 12:07

    This was a fantastic effort on everyone 's part who was involved! this is the only way to get strays from increasing and I support 100% what they are doing and help when they have auctions by donating or bidding on items! Remember everyone if you want to donate items for upcoming auctions please feel free to do it!! Thanks everyone!!

  • Sharon Putt
    October 30, 2013 - 12:05

    This was a fantastic effort on everyone 's part who was involved! this is the only way to get strays from increasing and I support 100% what they are doing and help when they have auctions by donating or bidding on items! Remember everyone if you want to donate items for upcoming auctions please feel free to do it!! Thanks everyone!!

  • Gwen Samms
    October 30, 2013 - 09:43

    Awesome job to everyone involved..TNR REALLY DOES make a difference in the lives of stray/feral/ abandon cats. It is great to see so many people including the public stepping up to make life better for our innocent cat friends. Again Awesome job ..

  • Andrea B
    October 30, 2013 - 09:05

    Great initiative! Hats off the the organizations and clinics involved. Goes to show there are many kind people in our community who want to help feral and displaced cats live better lives. The next step is for the city of St. John's to step up and help instead of thwarting TNR efforts in our city. Antiquated policies against outdoor cats deter people from caring for feral colonies for fear of breaking bylaws. Educate, not eradicate.

  • Vivien Wass
    October 30, 2013 - 08:33

    Fabulous initiative! Thank you to all those involved in helping give these community cats a better life. It would be wonderful to see other veterinary clinics stepping up to offer their services as well. Kudos to you all!

  • Vivien Wass
    October 30, 2013 - 08:32

    Fabulous initiative! Thank you to all those involved in helping give these community cats a better life. It would be wonderful to see other veterinary clinics stepping up to offer their services as well. Kudos to you all!

  • Pam Frampton
    October 30, 2013 - 08:31

    Torbay Road Animal Hospital and Sunrise Animal Hospital are affiliated, and Dr. Erin Wilson is a veterinarian at both hospitals.

  • Anne
    October 30, 2013 - 08:08

    It says in the article they were brought to torbay road, no they were brought to sunrise in mount pearl. Typical media, can't get the whole story right lol Great job to the staff of sunrise! This shows that guess what! Vets do care!

    • Sally
      October 30, 2013 - 13:06

      Both Sunrise and Torbay Road are owned by the same people as far as I understand. The gesture is the most important thing. They both should be commended.

  • Beverley Rowe
    October 30, 2013 - 06:58

    Great job to those who realize that feral cats need human intervention to help them get spayed/neutered, so they can live without fear of increasing the cat population. All animal lovers thank the vets that kindly give of their time/resources to help. Thanks also to those, including me, who donate to help the process. Everyone working together can get the job done!