Grand Forks residents who recently rescued a large colony of feral cats is spearheading efforts to set up the city’s first-ever cat shelter.
Kimberly Feeny, who works with the Kootenay Animal Assistance Program to rescue and find homes for abandoned cats, started a non-profit society to co-ordinate efforts to set up a shelter with mayor and council last week. The Boundary Helping Hands Feline Rescue Society has a board of directors, with Feeny as president and two other women as vice president and secretary-treasurer, Feeny told The Gazette.
Animal control services are handled within the Grand Forks area by Kootenay Boundary Animal Control, a private contractor retained by the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) at roughly $90,000 per year, according to RDKB General Operations Manager James Chandler.
Feeny said she and her fellow cat defenders recently drove 16 rescued cats to the Summerland cat shelter, Critteraid, adding that she’d driven four more cats to the Castlegar SPCA over the weekend, Dec. 12-13.
Preliminary talks are underway with city council, she said.
“It’s going to be a longer process than I would like because, obviously, the kitties don’t stop coming and neither do I,” she explained.
“We’re hoping to open a shelter in Grand Forks, so there’s not an immediate rush to scoop up rescued cats and drive out to Castlegar; Summerland or Nelson,” which she said have dedicated facilities. “It would save a lot of gas and a lot of winter driving if we could get set up here.”
The initiative has the support of Councillor Neil Krog and Mayor Brian Taylor.
Krog, who at one point cared for eight rescued cats and a dog with his wife Andrea, said he donated to Feeny and others’ recent efforts to rescue 20 cats from a rural property East of Grand Forks.
“I saw her Facebook post about the kittens and went up to the store and bought a huge load of litter and a whole bunch of kitten food. And she came and picked it up,” Krog said.
“I’m looking forward to any kind of proposal that would come to council,” he said, saying that a cat shelter would provide “a service that the community needs.”
I’m happy that Councillor Krog and myself should have something to agree on,” Mayor Taylor joked, adding that a cat shelter “is one of those things a mature community should have control of.”
RDKB General Operations Manager Chandler said the district owns the Donaldson Drive building that houses the Kootenay Boundary Animal Control service (KBAC). The KBAC “makes every effort to try and find the owners of any animals” found within city limits, Chandler said, adding that the vast majority of found pets are quickly re-united with their owners. Chandler qualified that animal control services hired by the district are primarily responsible for handling animal-related complaints — aggressive dogs, for instance — and enforcing district animal bylaws.
“We may become more involved in dealing with stray cats,” he suggested. “We’d want to understand a lot more about what that would look like.”
Chandler said he wasn’t sure if the RDKB could fund a Grand Forks cat shelter because the district can only provide services for which their are established bylaws, he explained.
Boundary Helping Hands’ President Feeny said she would devote herself full-time to the society and its efforts to establish a city cat shelter in the New Year. The society will continue to post updates about rescued cats to its Facebook page.