After 33 years of saving thousands of stray and surrendered cats, North Toronto Cat Rescue (NTCR) soon won’t have a place to call home.
“Please help us,” said founder Donna Cox. “This is so hard to close. I can’t even tell you, it breaks my heart.”
The no-kill facility helps control the feral feline population through rehabilitation and finding the cats a forever home. It’s run solely by volunteers and relies entirely on donations without any help from the government.
Located in Vaughan, the volunteer-run charity houses roughly 50 cats, but has been told by the city that it can only have three in the building, according to the bylaw.
“We’ve been closed down here. We cannot adopt out, we cannot take in. We must remove all animals,” said Cox.
NTCR’s current home is on a property that’s set to be redeveloped in two to three years, but the rescue group said it has the money to pay for rent until then, plus its landlord has encouraged it to remain until it finds a new home. Cox said that has proven to be difficult given the pandemic.
Instead of giving the charity more time to secure a new location, the City of Vaughan said it needs a business licence to operate.
However, in a statement to Global News, it explained that “NTCR does not meet the regulatory requirements to receive a business licence … including zoning and animal control by-laws.”
Margaret Chan has volunteered with the rescue group for half a decade and called the situation “heartbreaking.”
“I believe in their mission, I believe in their work,” she said. “Without food, without drinkable water, without shelter, the cats will all die.”
And the harsh conditions each winter make these months the time when the shelter is needed most, explained Cox.
The rescue group is pleading for help from city council, as well as from the community, looking for another building or a parcel of land it could purchase to set up a permanent home for the cats.
North Toronto Cat Rescue is urging residents of Vaughan to contact the mayor, along with city councillors to help rescue the shelter which has saved countless cats over the years and aims to keep doing just that for years to come.