There’s a “cat crisis” — as well as a funding shortfall — at the Central Alberta Humane Society.
About 200 felines are already crammed into a shelter space meant for 150 cats — while more people have been dropping off stray animals rescued from the cold, said executive director Tara Hellewell.
“It’s a crisis. We’re all struggling with cats, as we don’t euthanize in this space,” she added.
At the same time as the shelter is getting over-full of felines to feed, raising funds for pet food has been a tough slog. The Raise the Woof benefit for animal care fell $20,000 short of expectations, said Hellewell.
And the society is now having to extend the deadline for the 50-50 For the Love of Animals Lottery to Feb. 28, because not enough $25 tickets were sold by Jan. 31.
Hellewell said only $18,000 has been raised so far toward a goal of at least $35,000. (For more information, please visit cahumane.com.)
With the economic slowdown and many corporate sponsorships dedicated to the 2019 Canada Winter Games, fundraising has been “definitely more challenging,” she said.
Unlike dogs, cats are always in overabundance at the shelter, because too many owners are not spending the money to spay and neuter them.
“As a society, we value dogs more than cats,” said Hellewell.
She noted 100 cats are currently on the surrender list, waiting for shelter spaces to open up.
Hellewell suspects a lot of pet owners will have better luck finding new homes for their pets on their own.
She hopes they will not release domestic cats into the streets or fields, where they can starve, freeze or become prey to coyotes.
Hellewell said the shelter saw a sizable jump in animal surrenders about two years ago, when oilfield prospects fell. People were either having to move into cheaper accommodations that didn’t accept pets, or were accepting out-of-town jobs and did not have anyone to look after their cats or dogs.
Animal admissions have since more or less levelled off, “but we’re always near capacity,” she added, with more spaces for dogs than cats.
Hellewell and her staff have been considering other ways of raising funds. They are thinking about bringing back a once-successful jail-and-bail type fundraiser called Catch, Fetch, Release.
They’re also hoping for a great turnout to the society’s annual garage sale in late May.
“That always brings in the most money” — and in a slower economy, the garage sale might attract more people, she added.
The Central Alberta Humane Society isn’t the only local group that’s had to extend fundraisers. With ticket sales down, the Red Deer Kinsmen Dream Home Lottery deadline was also extended to Feb. 25, with the draw date now on Feb. 28.