CORNWALL, Ontario – At a presentation to Cornwall City Council on Monday, Nov. 27 the Ontario Societ for the Protection of Animals (OSPCA) announced that they had taken in an estimated 743 cats so far this year in Cornwall.
The SD&G OSPCA currently has a waiting list of over 100 cats waiting to be taken in and can only house 27 at a time.
“This is a serious problem,” said Bonnie Bishop, Senior Inspector with the OSPCA.
In July, the OSPCA held a cat amnesty day where they took in 73 cats in one day, and the OSPCA transferred them to other centres across the province. The next day, the OSPCA in SD&G again had a lengthy waiting list.
“That is a crisis level,” Bishop said.
Tonya Martin, Director of Animal Centres and Humane Programming at the OSPCA explained to council that the numbers of stray cats in the city far exceeds other municipalities of similar size and that it comes with a high cost for the OSPCA.
Each cat costs the OSPCA $514 to house. That cost does not include spay or neutering, vaccinations, and medical care. According to Martin 32 percent of cats that come into the OSPCA in SD&G are in need of medical attention.
This would mean that the total cost so far is over $380, 000.
Martin suggested that the City of Cornwall adopt a new program to deal with the issue.
Between 2008 and 2009 there was a temporary by-law in Cornwall under which stray cats were caught and spayed or neutered.
Bishop claimed that during that time, they caught more than 300 cats, but said that the problem is getting worse.
Some suggestions that they made included tagging cats for identification, spay and neutering pets and getting all stakeholders involved.
“This has gone beyond what you can manage as the OSPCA,” said Councillor Maurice Dupelle.
Martin gave the example of Markham, which has an adoption centre in a recreational centre which has increased the number of cats who has found new homes.
“Maybe this shouldn’t be promoted as a by-law, but a recovery service for pets,” said Martin, explaining that many “stray” cats are owned, but have wandered away from home.
Bonnie Bishop said that the problem was so bad and the wait list at the OSPCA was so long that they have had people just throw cats through the door at the OSPCA in SD&G. On average, they receive 2.2 cats per day.
During the Christmas season, the OSPCA in SD&G has dropped their adoption rate to $25 for a spayed/neutered and vaccinated cats. So far they have adopted out 50 cats in a week.
Council voted to refer the presentation to administration who will formulate a plan.