Too many cats on the Baccalieu Trail

By Chris Lewis | April 8, 2021

Members of the Baccalieu Trail SPCA have a lot on their hands lately and are looking to towns in the area for some help.

The group made the request at the most recent meeting of the Conception Bay North joint council.

The organization has been around for over a decade, but it was only in November 2020 that it was able to open the doors to its first animal shelter, located in Spaniard’s Bay.

In addition to Conception Bay North, the BTSPCA serves communities as far away as Placentia, said manager Nicole Bussey.

Bussey said the group is hoping to work with all the towns it serves to minimize the number of stray and unwanted animals. She described cases they’ve attend involving abused and neglected animals.

“We have a building that’s usually full of animals,” Bussey said.

Since opening in late 2020, the BTSPCA has taken in 106 cats, 12 dogs, and three guinea pigs. Two of those dogs were re-united with their owners, but 26 of the cats needed to be transferred to other animal rescue organizations such as Feral Felines.

Bussey noted kitten season is right around the corner, which means they will be preparing for an influx of young cats.

With such a high number of animals to look after, funding is an issue. Between veterinary care, food, spaying and neutering animals, and every other bill that comes with maintaining an animal shelter, the costs rack up quickly.

The BTSPCA owns a thrift store in Bay Roberts, which Bussey said has proven to be a financial help when times get tough.

“Due to COVID-19, (the store) has had to close twice, so for our organization, that was a devastating blow. It takes away so much of our funds,” she said. “We’re hoping that, when COVID-19 restrictions loosen up, we can maybe form some partnerships and apply for funding with you all.”
So far, the Town of Bay Roberts has committed to a yearly grant of $1,500 for the BTSPCA, which Bussey described as a crucial grant for them. The Town of Carbonear has also jumped on board, providing the organization the same amount of money this year.

Sonia Nolan-Baker, chairperson of the BTSPCA, said the work they do in the region could not be done without continued aid from the province’s other SPCAs.

Through grant programs, she added, the BTSPCA has been able to offer a spaying program for low income families who need to get their pets fixed. The program charges about $85. Some 400 pets have been spayed or neutered because of it.

This, she added, helps keep numbers lower during the aforementioned kitten season.

“We have a bad cat problem now, but we would have a gigantic cat problem (without the program),” Nolan-Baker said.

The BTSPCA has board members representing Victoria, Carbonear, Harbour Grace, Bay Roberts and Clarke’s Beach.

Nolan-Baker said surprisingly, many other SPCA locations do not have nearly as many cats as they have in the Baccalieu Trail building. Because of this, they have sent cats this year to the St. John’s, Burin and Gander SPCAs. In the past, she noted, they’ve transported cats as far as Happy Valley-Goose Bay

“We always have the most cats, it seems,” she said. “We would really like to have the opportunity to meet with surrounding towns, because we really want to work together to help the animals around here.”

Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood said he sees the Town’s contribution as an investment.

“We look at them as a major partner for the town, thus our support,” he said. “One of the things that we’ve found as a community is that there are many more animal issues going on as we move forward. It’s become a commitment of ours to support the association, because what they provide is invaluable, essential work.”

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