Few options in Creston Valley for unwanted animals

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To the Editor:

Some days I like animals better than people. Today is one of those days. I’m siting on my deck watching a starving cat and four very thin, hungry kittens. The young mother showed up here in the winter, managed to survive, was bred and gave birth to a batch of kittens. Hunger has driven her into my yard in search of food and water. She is not a feral cat. This was somebody’s pet, no longer wanted and dumped off.

This isn’t the first time cats have arrived. Last summer, a cat with four kittens showed up. Two kittens died. She was loaded with tapeworms and was expelling gobs of them in my yard. She was a friendly cat and, again, a pet. Next came an overweight yellow tabby. An indoor cat with no hunting skills, the weight quickly dropped off and she cried incessantly for food. A grey tom has taken up residence on my neighbour’s deck. The list will continue as long as their irresponsible owners aren’t stopped.

I am the owner of an ancient neutered tom. He is loved and well cared for. These “strays” are not so lucky.

This is the information I received last summer when trying to deal with the cat and kittens:

•If you live within the town of Creston, you should call bylaw enforcement. The Pet Adoption and Welfare Society (PAWS) has no responsibility within town limits.

•If you feed these starving cats, you own them. PAWS supplied me with food for them, then refused them shelter when I caught them.

•If you catch them, you are responsible to have the veterinarian check them at your own expense. PAWS gave me medicine to treat tapeworms. The vet later informed me the medication was for roundworms and would have no effect on tapeworms.

•You can call Cranbrook or Trail SPCA, but it is not their jurisdiction.

•I was also referred to the Creston Spay Neuter Animal Program (SNAP) for neutering. Cats must be six months old, which was fine for the mother. A donation was expected in Creston, with lower rates in Bonners Ferry. The mother rebred during this time.

In desperation, I scooped up the mother and kittens and took them to PAWS. They were refused. After a heated discussion (on my part) with the volunteer on duty and the past-president, I was asked to leave the premises. And if I left the cats, I would be charged with abandonment! What a futile exercise in frustration!

History repeats itself. A cat with five kittens (now four) is here. I emailed PAWS and the response was the same as last year: not its problem.

This whole situation stinks. These are not my cats and if I try to treat them in a humanitarian way, I will be penalized. I am extremely disappointed with PAWS’ lack of commitment to shelter these cats. Its website clearly states: “PAWS is a registered charity committed to finding safe, loving forever homes for abused, abandoned, stray or unwanted animals in the Creston Valley.” I am angry with the Regional District of Central Kootenay and the Town of Creston for not co-operatively working together to create one bylaw to cover the entire valley. Cats don’t have boundaries.

And I especially hate being put in a position where I have to make a choice of life or death for these cats. It sucks.

Without intervention, the life expectancy of these cats is limited. If they survive starvation, predators will kill them. I have offered to catch them if PAWS could assure me they would be taken. PAWS is refusing any commitment. I simply cannot have five cats in a cage with no place to go.

Darlene Wright