March 08, 2015 - 8:34 AM
OKANAGAN – As plans get under way to address Kelowna’s growing feral cat problem, five local veterinarians have volunteered their time and facilities to help ensure the problem gets solved for good.
Kelowna SPCA branch manager Suzanne Pugh says the city is facing a cat colony “crisis” and estimates there to be approximately 13,000 feral cats living on the streets of the Central Okanagan. The first phase of a soon-to-be-unveiled plan, she says, will be to collect data from the public.
“We’re going to gather as much information as we can and figure out the size of the problem and how we can respond to it,” she says.
Once colonies have been identified, they will be prioritized based on size of the group and health of the cats. Then the coalition will begin live trapping as many cats as possible to be sent to various clinics around Kelowna to be spayed or neutered.
“Right now we’ve got five vets from five clinics and we also have some staff from some of those clinics who are part of the committee as well,” she says. “We’re all volunteering our time on this but the vets are going to be integral to us moving forward.”
Since the exact scope of the problem is not yet known, how long it could take to solve is far from certain. So far five vets have agreed to devote their time and facilities over the coming months and possibly years: Dr. Michael Lavroff of Lavroff Homeopathic Veterinary Services, Dr. Marco Veenis of Okanagan Veterinary Hospital, Dr. Moshe Oz of Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital, Dr. Barbara Coughlin of Kelowna Veterinary Hospital and Dr. Steve Wilson of Lakeshore Animal Clinic.
“A lot of these colonies are really growing and getting out of control,” Dr. Wilson says. “We’re going to set aside a number of surgery spots each month and… we’ll keep going until the problem is solved. This is the only way to get a handle on the problem and prevent a lot of needless suffering.”
On Monday, March 8, a website will be available to the public where residents can log sightings of known colonies. It will be free to use and play an important role in deciding how much time, money and resources need to be made available.
“When we look at the crisis itself we have to look at the technology that will allow us to capture the data, getting the skills on board that can do the spay and neuters, and looking at the cost,” she says. “We all have different mandates but we all want the same outcome.”
The coalition includes the SPCA, AlleyCats Alliance, Westbank First Nation, the Okanagan Humane Society, the Veterinary Association and The Responsible Animal Care Society.
For more information, visit the Okanagan Cat Coalition Facebook page.
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