A significant financial commitment of $35,000 a year for three years will cut down on the unwanted cat population in Maple Ridge.
The District committed the most dollars ever to the BC SPCA spay and neutering program for this community, said organizer Geoff Urton.
“Cat overpopulation is a huge concern in communities across Canada and we applaud the Maple Ridge District for their progressive approach and support on this issue,” Urton said.
And how that money can best help curtail the local cat population was the subject of a recent day-long workshop at the Hammond Community Centre, where at least 30 people, including representatives of the SPCA, Katie’s Place, and public, came together to address the issues and develop a plan.
Discussion flowed throughout the entire day and was “incredibly productive,” said local SPCA shelter manager Mark Vosper.
Identifying the problems was key, he added, which was then broken into a two-fold plan.
Everyone recognized that there is a large contingent of feral or homeless cats in the community, Vosper said. But, it’s still unclear how extensive the problem is.
“We need to put a plan in place to trap, neuter, and release these,” he added.
Likewise, attention needs to also be focused – through an advertising and education program – at cat owners who allow their unspayed or unneutered cats to roam. This too translates into the creation of unwanted litters, as well as the transfer of health issues, among the felines, Vosper explained.
By creating a subsidy program that is available to low-income residents and people on welfare, he’s convinced the unwanted cat population will quickly stabilize.
The next step, following the Nov. 3 meeting, is to create criteria for people who would qualify for the subsidy, and develop an application form that will – when ready – be available online as well as from the Maple Ridge SPCA shelter and Katie’s Place.
More information on the program, and chances to engage in further dialogue, are available at mapleridgecats.eventbrite.ca.