British Columbia

B.C. animal shelters overwhelmed due to cats rescued from hoarder, owners giving up pets

The B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says their shelters are overwhelmed with cats from recent rescues involving animal hoarders in northern B.C.

SPCA cuts fee in half for cat adoptions to free up space for more animals

The B.C. SPCA says it is "overwhelmed" with incoming cats due to an increase in animal hoarding cases (BC SPCA)

The B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says its shelters are overwhelmed with cats from recent rescues.

In a statement released Monday, general manager of communications Lorie Chortyk says the organization has been responding to several hoarding cases in which "up to 100 cats" are being rescued at a time.

"This time of year is always very busy with incoming animals and these large-scale intakes place additional demands on our facilities and resources," said Chortyk.

According to the statement, "COVID, the rising cost of living and mental health challenges" have played a significant role in the increased need for the SPCA to step in.

"We are definitely getting more and more requests for help on properties where hoarding situations have gotten out of control, or people are just overwhelmed with the number of animals they're caring for," said Chortyk.

One of the 120 cats and three dogs the B.C. SPCA seized from a trailer in Fort St. James. The animals are recovering from physical ailments caused by being trapped in cramped, filthy conditions. (B.C. SPCA)

"Just this month, we took in 120 cats from a property in northern B.C. and these kinds of cases are happening all around the province."

In that case, animal control officers searched a trailer Fort St. James near Prince George after first finding 130 dead cats inside three freezers at a trailer owned by the same person in nearby Vanderhoof, about 100 kilometres west of Prince George.

The issue of too many animals in shelters is proving to be widespread across the country, as many people surrender pets they adopted during the pandemic but can no longer care for as they return to work and school.

City officials in Calgary, in conjunction with the Calgary Humane Society and the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS), issued a statement last week saying animal welfare organizations "are in crisis" and shelters are full. 

AARCS executive director Deanna Thompson said staff have seen a 200 per cent increase in the number of people looking to surrender their pets. 

In Ontario, the Kingston Humane Society reported in May that they had 62 dogs in their shelter and over 100 in foster care.

"We're seeing that once people are back into their pre-pandemic lifestyle, they haven't been able to or willing to maintain that commitment," said executive director Gord Hunter. 

In order to help free up space, the B.C. SPCA announced Monday that it is offering 50 per cent off cat adoption fees in the hopes of finding loving homes for cats currently in care. Chortyk says she encourages anyone thinking about adopting a cat to take advantage of the promotion.

"You will not only be providing a loving home for a deserving animal, but it will allow us to create capacity to help more abused and neglected animals."

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