The lack of pet-friendly rental housing is impacting cat rescue organizations in Chilliwack.
Local rescues are “drowning cats” that have been abandoned by their owners, said Christy Moschopedis of FCM Community Cat Trappers. People deposit them in shelters or abandon them.
Although the Moschopedis organization does not have a cat sanctuary – FCM focuses on TNR (trap, spay/neuter, release) feral cats – they work closely with local rescues to rehouse cats and friendly feral kittens.
“The Chilliwack rescues have seen a significant increase in landlord disposals. Cats left in front of shelter doors. Dropped cats. Cats left behind,” she said.
Nearly 80% of cats cared for at four cat rescue centers in Chilliwack are abandoned owners: ABC Cat Rescue (97%), Chilliwack Animal Safe Haven (63%), Chilliwack Community Animal Projects (100%) and Forever Cat Rescue Homes (58%).
Rescuers want to help, but cat owners need to respect the organizations and the staff and volunteers who run them, Moschopedis said.
“Don’t contact the emergency services once you’ve already been released or you need to be released in a few hours. It’s unfair to rescues. Lack of planning on the part of an owner should not constitute an emergency on the part of rescuers.
Chloe MacBeth, branch manager at the Chilliwack SPCA, echoed Moschopedis’ message and added that there are other reasons cats are abandoned.
“It’s not just the pet-friendly housing that’s the challenge, although it’s certainly the most cited reason for the surrender,” MacBeth said.
Those who bought pets on impulse during the pandemic face the realities of finding a home, dealing with behavioral issues, and the expense of owning a pet.
There is also the problem of the shortage of veterinarians which slows down a cat’s movement during rescues.
When the COVID restrictions came into effect, there was a marked increase in pet adoptions and purchases. This has fueled irresponsible animal husbandry such as backyard farming and pet factories. Unscrupulous pet import “rescues” (flippers) rushed to make money and meet demand, MacBeth said.
“We are currently witnessing the heartbreaking fallout of these unethical practices,” she said.
The SPCA and rescues have waiting lists for pet owners who abandon their pets, as vulnerable animals — like cruelty investigation cases, street cats, and animals in need of urgent care — are priorities. About 90% of animals on the SPCA’s waiting list are between one and two years old.
Moschopedis said pet owners need to give rescues plenty of time before returning their animals.
“If you know you’re going to have to move next month, call immediately to be put on a waiting list,” she said. “If you don’t need your spot on that waiting list, great!” They can move on to the next animal on that list.
Moschopedis listed other things pet owners should do:
• Try to relocate. Don’t give your pets away “for free in a good home”. Ask for relocation costs. Find an adoption application online and ask people to fill it out. Be selective about where your pet will go.
• See if you have a family member who could bring your pets. Offer to continue supporting them financially if you are able.
• Examine your animals. Take them to the vet for a check up. Make sure they are medically up to date. Provide the rescue with your animal’s veterinary records.
• Update your pet’s permanent identification (tattoo and/or microchip) once it has been rehomed. We often receive animals whose identifier is registered in the name of a previous owner.
• Do not contact the emergency services once you have already been released or are due to be released in a few hours. It’s unfair to rescues. Lack of planning on the part of an owner should not constitute an emergency on the part of rescuers.
MacBeth listed the current six main reasons why owners abandon their pets: they already have too many animals, related to housing, unwanted litter, life change (hospitalization), lack of time and veterinary care.
“We’ve had abandoned animals on our doorstep, which is very frustrating as it strains our already depleted resources beyond our capacity,” MacBeth said. “This is an industry that already faces tremendous challenges of burnout and compassion fatigue. Controlled intakes allow us to provide higher levels of care, both to the animals and to our team. »