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Cat shelter at risk of close

By Carol Aun – Mission City Record
Published: October 10, 2013 1:00 PM

Mission’s only cat shelter and adoption centre might not make it to the end of the year.

With just $2,000 in the bank, the Fraser Valley Humane Society (FVHS) and its volunteers have their work cut out for them to continue an operation which needs at least $8,000 a month.

Donations are low at this time of year and this isn’t the first time the non-profit organization has faced this challenge, but it could be their last.

“We’re a very low priority for people, but there are lots of kittens and cats everywhere in the community,” said Celia Durst, FVHS executive director.

Volunteers are tired, and the same ones are being called upon to constantly fundraise even though they’re getting older. The group was shattered last month when Mission council refused to even explore the idea of working with other animal control groups to establish a new facility for unwanted pets.

It’s a serious problem and council doesn’t seem to be behind us, Durst observed.

At its recent annual general meeting, two of the five board members resigned and the membership was told if help doesn’t come through, the facility may close.

“We don’t have any cushion,” explained Durst. “Perhaps now we have to lay off staff.”

Staff wages take up $5,000 of the group’s $8,000 monthly budget. Durst is the only full-time employee, and there are two part-time helpers as well. Wages have already been reduced from last year, and the executive director’s pay, which does not include benefits, has been frozen for four years.

The society’s sales revenue, which include adoptions, membership fees, etc., increased by seven per cent this year (from $37,494 in 2011-2012 to $40,221 from 2012-2013), but its grants and gaming revenue decreased by 14 per cent compared to last year (from $31,804 to $27,285), and donations are down 20 per cent (from $38,575 to $30,818).

Currently, they also owe about $5,000 in vet bills.

FVHS was formed 14 years ago to help look after feral and unwanted cats in the community. The society has been at its current location, at the corner of North Railway Avenue and James Street, for about 10 years, and was asking the district to help find a new building in order to expand and improve working conditions for employees. There is no heat or air conditioning in the building. The facility can hold up to 40 cats and the cages are always full, said Durst.

The society has been turning away people and their cats for months now, despite being told the owners would dispose of the animals themselves by leaving them on the railway tracks or releasing them into the wild.

“It breaks my heart to hear that,” said Durst, who has provided names of other animal agencies people can bring their pets too, but notes those shelters are at capacity too. “We’re the only cat shelter in Mission. People come to us because they know their animal will be safe here. But we still have to say no.”

FVHS has a no-kill policy.

Durst suspects there will be another FVHS meeting called in the next few weeks for members who will then decide the next steps.

In the meantime, numerous fundraisers are being organized to help.

Little support for new animal shelter

By Carol Aun – Mission City Record
Published: September 26, 2013 9:00 AM
Updated: September 26, 2013 9:31 AM

Mission council is barking over plans to develop a long term care plan for abandoned cats and dogs in Mission with stakeholders.

The issue was triggered by the Fraser Valley Humane Society, which currently operates a cat shelter from the corner of N. Railway Avenue and James Street. The society has been in existence since 1999 and the facility is at capacity with 29 cats and kittens, a chinchilla and a guinea pig. Eleven animals are in foster care, and there is a list of Mission families requesting the shelter take their animals.

The rented building is also aging and inadequate, according to Celia Durst, FVHS executive director, who asked council to consider building a new cat shelter and adoption centre.

District staff also reviewed Mission’s animal control centre on Woodward Street in Silverdale and determined both groups could benefit from a new facility….

FVHS currently receives $25,000 fee for service grant from the district and the Mission Animal Control program costs $300,000. About $215,000 of revenue is made from the sale of dog licenses and general taxation makes up the difference.

“Given Mission’s expected growth, it would be prudent to begin looking at what future costs could be expected and begin to put the estimates into the budget process starting with the 2015 budget,” says Mike Younie, director of development services, in a report to council.

Coun. Larry Nundal simply stated Mission doesn’t have the funds for the endeavour, and suggested the district should address the issue of homeless people first. He also didn’t want to take funds away from other district projects.

“There’s no money from taxpayers for these purposes,” said Nundal.

Coun. Dave Hensman agreed approving a long-term plan would put the onus on the district.

“We have other things to deal with,” Nundal added. “It’s not our issue … We have RCMP asking for more five officers, the fire department asking for this and that. I want to deal with what we have first before taking on other projects.”

Coun. Nelson Tilbury was the only councillor in support of the proposal.

“The plan could be considered once it’s complete and it seems we can still reject it,” he stated.

Councillors Jenny Stevens and Jeff Jewell were absent from the last council meeting.

Click on the links below to read recent Letters to the Editor:

Disgusted and disappointed over council’s animal shelter decision

Council has flippant attitude toward plight of abandoned pets

Perception as a prehistoric community which doesn’t care about pets

Animals are the district’s problem

“Cat Father” incensed with council