Editor’s note: 630 CHED reached out to the Edmonton Humane Society for comment, though the policing of the Animal Protection Act falls to the Animal Care and Control Centre. Officials from the ACCC are aware of the incident and said they will comment on Friday.
A family in southeast Edmonton isn’t sure what to make of a delivery on their doorstep early Wednesday morning, when two people dropped off two cats in a carrier, rang the doorbell and ran off.
Juan Nitti and his wife were asleep when he says his stepdaughter came and woke the two up around 12:20 a.m., saying someone had left something on the porch.
“We went downstairs and my wife opened the door and and peeked outside and heard meowing.“
On their front step was a pink pet carrier with two young cats inside.
Footage from their doorbell camera shows two people approaching the front porch and leaving the carrier and a bag that Nitti said had food and treats in it.
One of the people in the video approaches the doorbell and rings it before they both run off.
“I think it was totally random cause there was a parking stall in front of our house, which is never open, it was open last night and they parked there,” Nitti said.
“I think they were sitting there for a while deciding what house to drop them off at.”
The family has a large dog and cat allergies didn’t want to bring the cats inside, so they tucked them into a corner of the porch and let them be.
In the morning when they were dropping their dog off at Paws at Play Dog Daycare, they mentioned the situation to the owner. A staff member was immediately sent over to pick up the cats and the doggy daycare will foster the felines until a more appropriate home is found.
“Now they’re quite content, set up in my office. And they’re doing great,” owner Amanda Pike said.
The cats will be staying at the daycare until they can get in to see a vet before heading off to a better foster home. Pike says the two appear to be younger than six months.
Nitti said he didn’t recognize either of the people in the video but posted it on Facebook in an effort to find the cats homes. As of 3 p.m., it had been viewed nearly 4,000 times.
As a dog owner and animal lover himself, he’s just hoping the pair have a happy ending.
“I just hope they go to good homes and hopefully together, because they look like brother or sister, or siblings anyway.”
Pike said the person who dropped the cats off was a teenage girl who didn’t have permission from her mother to get the animals. Circumstances like this show why Alberta needs stricter laws to protect animals, Pike said.
“There shouldn’t have been a way for a teenage girl to acquire two cats,” she said. “She’s ill-prepared to take care of them, didn’t have permission, there were no hoops for her to jump through to gain ownership of these cats.”
The cats will be going to a proper foster home on Friday and once the 10-day grace period mandated by provincial bylaws is up, the cats will be placed for adoption on the Paws in Need animal rescue website.
How to surrender an animal
Pike is also the owner of Paws in Need. She said the reality is that sometimes people will need to surrender an animal, but adds there’s a right way to do it.
Her advice? Call around to the shelters in your area to see who may have room.
“It’s often good to just phrase your e-mail respectfully or your phone call and just say, ‘Hey I need help. I’m in over my head, I have this cat or this dog. And this is a situation we’re in and we need help,” she said.
Even better is if people can hang on to the animal for a couple of days. In that case, many shelters can assist with a food donation.
“Shelters are always full with cats so finding one that can take in surrendered animals is not always easy,” a statement from the Alberta SPCA said.
“However, if you have raised a cat for many months or many years, you owe it to that animal to take a few extra weeks to find it a proper and safe home.”
Abandoning animals is not an offence under the Animal Protection Act, according the Alberta SPCA. What is an offence is if the animals are in distress because they were abandoned.
Animals are considered in distress if there is a lack of food and water, a lack of veterinary care if the animal is wounded or ill, lack of appropriate shelter and lack of protection from heat or cold temperatures that could cause injury.
In this case, the animals were found quickly enough that the SPCA says it appears the two were fine. Though the organization said no one should expect to find shelter space in a few hours or few days.
“Watching anyone abandon any pet on someone’s doorstep or property is disappointing,” the organization said.
“We encourage everyone to show compassion and patience to ensure their pets have a chance to find a loving home. It is the right thing to do.”
The Alberta SPCA is not involved in any possible investigation into this. Any animal welfare issues with the City of Edmonton fall to the Animal Care and Control Centre.
The ACCC said it received a request to look into this incident on Friday. An officer will be assigned to follow up.
Edmonton’s ACCC had to stop taking in animals amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As of May 25, the ACCC can accept stray dogs if an appointment has been made and will take animals in distress — including injured and sick animals or pregnant cats and kittens under two months without a mother — but is still not accepting healthy cats.