CORNER BROOK — Janice Higgins had small aspirations when starting Scaredy Cat Rescue a year and a half ago, but the outstanding growth they have experienced is "purr"fect to her.
Humble beginnings may be putting it too lightly for the Corner Brook woman, who recalls the first public meeting she scheduled to garner support for the group she hoped could assist some of the stray cat population in the city. Nobody attended that meeting, aside from media representation.
Higgins is not the only person who recognizes the valuable contribution Scaredy Cat Rescue is making in improving the lives of animals in the community. SPCA International recently honoured the organization through its shelter program, awarding them a grant of $1,000 to continue this work.
The financial contribution and recognition could not come at a better time, according to Higgins. The group has expanded from spaying and neutering stray cats and returning them to the outdoors, to assisting colonies which homeowners have hoarded in the city.
First, Scaredy Cat Rescue confronted a homeowner in the Curling area of the city who was found to have 25 cats. Higgins said their success in working with the person was offering assistance to save the animals by spaying and neutering them and/or finding them adoptive homes. It is something the charitable organization has been doing on a smaller scale for some time now, and currently has approximately 40 felines in foster care awaiting homes.
However, nothing could have prepared them for the situation uncovered on McWhirters Lane recently, when more than 200 cats were found in a home. Scaredy Cat Rescue were the first on the scene, said Higgins, and continue to help the Bay of Islands SPCA try to find homes for more than 100 cats still being sheltered in the old fire station in Curling.
There are more examples, which she hopes are not to this extent, of this throughout the city.
"There are several that have been reported, that we cannot even look at right now," she said. "We know there are many others that haven't been reported."
There are also countless examples of the smaller feline stray colony population the group originally meant to target.
That is why Higgins continues to solicit volunteers and donors. The main priority areas are placements for fostering cats and financial donations to help with the spaying and neutering. Of course, people wanting to adopt cats are also needed desperately to make the effort a success.
The financial award through SPCA International will help out, but Higgins said more is needed from the community. She hopes the increased awareness and notoriety continues to increase the public support.
"It is rewarding we are recognized as doing something positive for animal welfare in our area," she said. "It is rewarding financial in that we can now apply those funds to finish off dealing with the colony in Curling."