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Feral Cat Rescue has its day at Council

April 1, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Peter Richardson

 

Council witnessed an informative presentation Monday night from Sharon Morden, who operates the Feral Cat rescue from her home at 141 Second Avenue West.

The presentation was in response to an earlier delegation from Janet Manschitz, who complained about the odours emanating from the rescue, located next door to her home. The two properties share a common property line.

The presentation was well attended by supporters of the rescue, some of whom are also neighbours.

Mayor Ken Bennington made it clear to all in attendance that this was simply a fact gathering exercise to offer Sharon a chance to tell her side of the situation and to better inform Council as to the rescue itself and the situation at hand.

He assured everyone that Council was in no way prepared to make any decisions at this time and that no sides had been taken.

Though public discussion is not normally allowed at these delegations, Mayor Bennington allowed that he was willing to entertain exchanges following the presentation, as long as they remained courteous, constructive and on topic.

Due to the size of the assembly, Council heard the delegation in Grace Tipling Hall rather than in Chambers.

Ms. Morden proceeded with a brief, but highly informative slide presentation which she narrated, outlining her Strategic Plan for 2017.

The plan was created to specifically address the aforementioned complaint.

Opened in 2012, the purpose of the rescue is to reduce the feral and homeless cat population in the Town of Shelburne and the surrounding area.

To facilitate this goal, the rescue offers medical and preventative services to feral cats, support and discount spay and neutering services to the public at large, and education regarding responsible cat ownership.

The need for the rescue is because no such animal control option currently exists in Shelburne.

The rescue is a non-registered not-for-profit organization that is staffed by 11 volunteers and Sharon.

Feral Cat Rescue offers transport to and from a low cost spay/neuter clinic. It responds to calls about found felines on properties and offers medical assistance to injured, ownerless, outdoor cats. It also provides refuge for feral cats not able to be returned to a colony for a variety of reasons, from colony destruction, to strays that are lost and unhealthy and need to find homes.

Beyond that, the Feral Cat Rescue provides Barn Cat Transitions for cats that prefer to not associate with people, and has educational programmes through visits to elementary schools, Girl Guides, Boy Scouts, Community Living and church groups.

They respond to calls from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. five days a week. The rescue adopts out rehabilitated cats through various pet food stores and humane societies throughout Dufferin County.

The Feral Cat Rescue is totally funded through donations and fundraising activities.

The facility itself occupies the entire basement of the home and includes an eight foot square outdoor enclosure in the backyard.

Since its inception, it has rescued a total of 952 cats. There is an exam area, an isolation area, an office and the sanctuary room in the basement. The entire facility is kept clean and sanitized, with the sanctuary room being done twice a day.

Sharon is the first one to admit that the shelter does not belong in a residential area and she would like to see it relocated to an industrial, or commercial area, where she could not only service the needs of felines, but expand to include dogs and other small animals.

However, in order for this to happen she needs financial support from the taxpayers of Shelburne and the support of the Town Council to ensure the resources to carry everything forward.

She readily acknowledges the complaint made by Janet Manschitz and is willing to work towards a favourable resolution for both parties.

In the interim, she hopes that Council will allow the rescue to remain in operation, while it investigates the options and comes to a resolution, concerning the matter.

During the public discussions that followed, many ideas were put forward, as were numerous opinions concerning the Feral Cat Rescue and Sharon herself.

Joe Kvesic, who describes himself as “another cat lady”, suggested that he would be willing to put money toward rent of a better facility and pleaded with Council to help her, saying that “she was an angel” and worthy of all the help she can get.

Heather LaFlamme, another next door neighbour, asserted that she spends a great deal of time in her backyard and had never noticed any cat odour in her experience.

The Mayor suggested that there was seed money available from both the Town and the County for worthy projects and that, to date, the County had given out some $89,000 in support of causes, with more money available.

He encouraged Sharon to apply for a grant, which could possibly become an annual affair.

Others suggested cat tags as a revenue source or the use of microchipping instead.

The issue was left in the hands of Council, who will attempt to research all of the possible scenarios and solutions in the weeks to come.

         

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