Thousands of cats and hundreds of colonies live on the streets of Kingston, and cat rescues run by volunteers can’t keep up.
Heather Patterson is the founder of For the Love of Ferals and says calls from the community for help are constant.
“We get e-mails, private messages every day,” Patterson says.
Donna Cowie-Ducharme, however, who runs Forgotten Ferals, says there is a solution.
“Ideally, if we could get the low cost spay and neuter clinics in the city that’s our answer,” Cowie-Ducharme said.
A city report from 2013 came out with a list of recommendations that included a spay/neuter voucher program and money for TNVR, which stands for trap, neuter, vaccinate, return.
Kingston’s policy and program coordinator Greg McLean says the municipality provides $50,000 for a voucher and TNVR program.
“As part of the Responsible Pet Ownership Program,” McLean said, “the recommendations coming out of the working group in 2013, a high volume, low cost spay-neuter clinic was one of the recommendations.”
That recommendation didn’t come to fruition in part because the Kingston Humane Society wouldn’t participate says Kingston city councillor Lisa Osanic.
“It’s really too bad that the Kingston Humane Society doesn’t want to be a partner,” she said.
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Osanic says humane societies in other cities are a common part of the equation in getting a clinic started.
A report coming to council on March 19th could breathe new life into the clinic option.
Osanic says city staff were contacting local veterinarians last fall to see if there was any interest in a partnership of some form with the municipality.
“The outcome of those phone calls will be coming to council as well.”
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In the interim, Osanic hopes a mobile clinic can be brought in from another community.
“Some of the humane societies near the Toronto area, they actually have a van,” she said. “That could take care of a couple of hundred cats over that weekend.”
Starting up a clinic could cost between $200,000 and $300,000, but Osanic says there could be grants to help defray those costs.
“When we looked at the other cities that do have it, after you have the up-front costs paid for, they do run themselves.”
With the nearest high volume, low cost clinics located in Toronto, Barrie and Newmarket, a clinic could potentially serve not only Kingston, but much of Eastern Ontario.
In any case, Osanic says they work and are worth the investment.
“I think it was Lincoln County, so that’s around the St. Catherines, Hamilton area,” she said. “Their humane society has actually run out of cats.”
An issue Kingston cat rescues can only dream about.