LETHBRIDGE: A new project to cut back on the number of wild cats in the city's industrial area was the focus at city hall Monday.
Representatives from the city's animal rescue groups requested $20,000 for start-up costs on a "trap,neuter or spay and return program" for hundreds of feral cats that live in the industrial area. The budget would include funds for vet bills, pre-made shelters to house the cats, and traps.
Spokesperson Elizabeth Ginn explains how what she calls the "cat crisis" in the industrial area came to be.
"It's the result of people not neutering and spaying, the result of people dumping them in the industrial area," says Ginn.
She says a system for trapping cats, 'fixing' them, and releasing them to pre-fabricated shelters managed by caregivers is already in place in Taber, and several other municipalities in the province.
Mayor Rajko Dodic says he listened to the presentation with interest, but can't guarantee the issue will be added to council's upcoming budget discussions.
"It always becomes a balancing act because there are so many worthy projects and needs that are out there, and this certainly is one of them."
The Last Chance Cat Ranch and Purrfect Endings - two cat rescue shelters with a no-kill policy, also requested annual support from the city: $5,000 each per year. Presenters at the meeting said it costs three rescue groups $12,000 a month to run their shelters, which are filled to over-capacity. The volunteer-led shelters are run using fundraising money and funds from the volunteers own pockets - a system volunteers say will no longer work if they want to expand their services.
"If they can find $2 million for a new website and thousands of dollars for consultants for the arts centre, Henderson pool and the transit system, then $30,000 a year for animal rescue - that's nothing," says Ginn. "That's just a drop in the bucket."