Ark Animal Sanctuary (week of May 23, 2018)

The warm weather has finally arrived and things are starting to turn green and bloom. It is time to open the windows and breathe the fresh air and bask in the warm sunlight.

Our kitties are really enjoying their outdoor cat pens. They are waiting at the door in the morning to be let out. The one thing that is difficult to see is that every morning we have strays sitting on the opposite side of the fence or waiting at the back door. Cats that are un-altered and some are in pretty rough shape, they are thin, hungry and most are infested with fleas.

Last year we thought we had made a pretty good dent in catching the strays getting them altered and in many cases we were able to re-home them. We actually have one room which is fully devoted to the strays that we brought in over the past year from right outside our door. We even have one big black cat that has taken up residence under the chapel.

It is sad to watch them, but we are determined to eliminate the problem of strays at the sanctuary. Where do they come from?  People move away and just leave their cats. Many get animals and can’t afford to neuter or spay them resulting in unwanted litters who are left to fend for themselves and  then reproduce in a few months.

Some say that people actually drop their cats off in the area and drive away. What can we do to prevent the problem? Perhaps landlords could require that all tenants who have pets must get them altered? They can specify how many animals each tenant can have, but maybe they can also require each tenant to have a picture on file of their pets and medical documentation that the pet has been altered? That would be a good start. At the sanctuary we have outdoor cameras set so we can actually see if people are dropping off cats.

We are getting ready to set the live traps once again this year. Once a cat is trapped, it is held for the required amount of time and then it goes to the vet to be altered, vaccinated and tested.   Last year we trapped over 10 cats. Out of the 10, only one cat had someone claim it. The cat was not altered, the owner could not afford it. So in this case we altered the cat and gave it back.

Getting these cats spayed or neutered is very expensive. Last year we spent over $2,000 just doing the strays outside our door. Where does that money come from? We work very hard fundraising — our volunteers go above and beyond. They give their time freely and ask for nothing in return because they believe in our mission and they have a great love for the animals. Our supporters are also very generous and without them our work would not be possible.

We know that this is a problem that is not going to be solved overnight. We also know that we cannot do this on our own, we need everyone to work together as a team. We are willing to listen to any suggestions and help people but first those people have to be willing to help themselves. If you would like to make a donation to help with this effort donations can be mailed to 70 Main St., Houlton, Maine 04730. Please earmark neuter and spay fund.

Thank you for your continued support and as always thank you for reading our column.

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