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Hundreds of Red Deerians hunt for bargains at Whisker Rescue sale

Hundreds of people lined up around the block in fdowntown Red Deer on Friday, awaiting their chance to hunt for bargains at the Whisker Rescue garage sale. Top of Karin Hamon's wish list was: "Things my kids can't destroy...

Hundreds of people lined up around the block in downtown Red Deer on Friday, waiting for their chance to bargain hunt at the Whisker Rescue Garage Sale.

Karin Hamon hoped to find "some things my kids can't destroy... I'd like to get some camping and outdoor stuff," she explained, with a chuckle.

This year's fundraiser for the animal charity is being held in the former Jackpot Casino building at 4750-49 Ave. through to 3 p.m. Sunday. It's smaller venue than in past years, so fewer people can be admitted at once. But this didn't deter Hamon and many others from patiently waiting their turn.

Sherry McIntosh brought her son Gabriel to the sale because he just moved out and needs all manner of household supplies. Sherry said she's been coming to for a few years and the massive garage sale never disappoints.

The size of this year's crowd "is absolutely awesome," said Diane Webber, co-ordinator of the Whiskers Rescue Garage Sale.

She was also thrilled with the quantity and quality of this year's donations. The collectibles area featured three or four silverware sets, a multitude of salt and pepper shakers, as well as antique tins and fine china going back 50 or 100 or more years.

One young woman was leafing through John Wayne magazines and other memorabilia and weighing her needs against her wants. Other shoppers were less discriminant, pushing around carts overloaded with vases, fake plants, Christmas decor, fabrics, craft materials and books.

The Whiskers Rescue Garage Sale has been held in Red Deer for about 22 years and raises about $50,000 annually for the local charity. 

"It all goes to the cats," said Webber, who noted the shelter has about 150 felines awaiting adoption and another 20 in foster homes.

Like the Central Alberta SPCA, group members have noticed a drop-off in adoptions since the pandemic. Webber believes the high cost of living is making a lot of people hesitate to take in a pet and potentially face high veterinary bills.

Whisker Rescue runs a program for low-income seniors. "Seniors get the cat for free," said Webber, and they can apply for help paying for cat food, kitty litter and veterinary bills. "We also have a subsidized spay and neuter program —  which is the most important thing," said Webber, since Red Deer doesn't need more unwanted felines.

"People have this attitude that a cat can survive outdoors on its own," when the truth is they suffer from the cold, can get hit by cars, kill thousands of songbirds, and become prey for coyotes and other predators, she added.

"You only need to remember two things: Keep your cat indoors and spay and neuter," said Webber — although she added enclosed outdoor cat runs are a fine idea too.



Lana Michelin

About the Author: Lana Michelin

Lana Michelin has been a reporter for the Red Deer Advocate since moving to the city in 1991.
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