Pet abandonment, feral cat populations challenge local SPCA

·3 min read

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to put pressure on the local SPCA.

There are currently 57 animals in the care of the North Peace SPCA with the number expected to grow, according to Branch Manager Candance Buchamer,

Most of the animals are cats: 21 litters have been discovered so far in 2021, increasing feral populations in the city, while many pet owners have also simply abandoned their pets due to the financial hardships brought on by the pandemic.

“It’s a difficult season for sure, vets shut down their services in 2020 due to COVID, as a result we’ve seen a lot more litters this year," said Buchamer. "Unfortunately we're seeing a lot of abandonment. There's people losing their homes, people losing their jobs, or having to move, so we are seeing a lot cats specifically being left behind, and, strangely, dogs."

"Often they show up on farms and no one ever comes forward for them. It's a strange situation for sure and it does put a toll on the resources," Buchamer said.

More than ever the branch is need of financial support, says Buchamer – cash, gift cards for pet stores and hardware stores, kitten kibble, pate cat food, laundry detergent, office supplies, and more – the list goes on.

The SPCA is also on the hunt for active and willing fosters to take cats and kittens into their homes – all needed supplies are provided by the non-profit.

“We’re trying to do a big foster push as well, trying to get people who might be hanging around for the summer in taking moms and kittens homes if they’re interested,” said Buchamer, who is grateful for everyone who's stepped up to help so far.

The recent heatwave also took its toll on animals in the region - five animals came into care over that period with heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

"A lot of people don't have air conditioning or even basements in their homes," said Buchamer. "Some of our fosters were finding that animals in their care were starting to show signs of heat exhaustion, so we had to move animals from foster back to the branch where we have air conditioning. It definitely contributed to an overstock."

The branch has struggled during the pandemic with limited staffing. "We do our best to return phone calls and emails as soon as we can. But people banging at the door aren't always our first concern, we've been focusing on the animals in our care," said Buchamer.

Wildfires are also of concern for the branch to ensure there’s a place for animals to go if needed, Buchamer said.

“It’s something that’s at the top of our concern list, if we need to assist with evacuation processes for people, having space to be able to do that and give people a little bit of security,” Buchamer said.

Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News

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