• Jules-Pierre Malartre

Foster volunteers urgently needed - winter is here


PHOTO BY ANGELA AGOURIAS

Winter is especially harsh to stray animals and while a number of abandoned cats in our community try to weather the harsh season, many of them succumb to cold and hunger. A few lucky ones end up being rescued by volunteers who either find homes for them or provide them with some limited means of survival.

Christine Heidt, Anne Bochnig and Joëlle Panchyshyn are some of the few residents who have taken it upon themselves to help those cats.

"We are a small organization that runs a very effective program to reduce the overpopulation of abandoned cats through adoptions and trap/sterilize/release activities, all at our expense. But we cannot do it all alone, we need your help. We rely on dedicated foster volunteers to open their homes to shelter and care for these animals until we find suitable homes for them," Christine says.

"We provide food, medication, examination, and prescription diet for the rescued cats," Christine adds. Therefore, anyone interested in fostering a rescued cat does not have to shoulder any costs. “All that we are missing are people willing to open their homes to cats rescued from the cold.”

"Our goal is to provide as many animals as possible with a second chance for a bright and healthy future. Please help us to keep them warm and healthy this winter," Christine pleads.

Rescuing a cat off the street is no easy matter. First, the cat must be trapped. Once the cat has been captured, it must be examined by a veterinarian, which is a costly process that Christine and her team assume fully without burdening any foster home with costs. In most likelihood, the cat will also need to be neutered. Sterilization is the best method of controlling the excess pet population, whether the animal gets adopted or released back outside. Some cats revert back to a feral state after being abandoned for a certain period of time. For these cats, Christine and her team have few options: they must re-release the animal after having it neutered. Volunteers can also provide some limited form of shelter and nourishment throughout the year. Luckily, municipalities are becoming more open to the idea of providing help and support for what have become known as "community cat colonies" rather than using conventional methods of animal control that involve euthanasia and that do not address the root cause of the problem.

Old-school mentality of using animal control services is slowly making way for more evolved and humane methods of controlling stray cat populations, including adoption and neutering. The problem, after all, is not the cats, but the people who abandon them.

Despite popular belief, cats are not okay outside. Regardless of whatever protection their fur provides, domestic cats are ill-equipped to face winter conditions.

Christine, Anne and Joëlle are desperate for some help. While people can volunteer to help trap the cats or make donations to help the cause, there is a more immediate and urgent need for foster homes. Fostering a rescued cat is a worthwhile endeavour that is both fulfilling and rewarding. It is one of the best ways of helping a living being that has very little hope left.

The need to get cats out of the cold this winter is immediate. If you want to help, please contact Christine at (450) 458-8699 or Anne at (514) 777-6686.

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