CORNER BROOK — Cleaning up what is often the gruesome acts of “irresponsible” people is an overwhelming and seemingly endless task for local feline activists.
Janice Higgins, founder of Scaredy Cat Rescue in Corner Brook, said the new Animal Health and Protection Act of Newfoundland still has no teeth. The highly praised legislation is lacking, she says, because the enforcement aspect has thus far fallen short.
Monday night, four kittens were found abandoned in a box in the Greenings Hill area. Two of the kittens succumbed to the elements, while the other two — which she said were found cuddled with the dead animals in an attempt to keep warm — have survived and are currently being fostered.
“What kind of dirty, rotten, low down, no good, piece of garbage, passing themselves as human, does this?” Higgins said.
Although the training of animal welfare inspectors has begun in the province, she said there is still nobody in this area to turn to for enforcement of the legislation and to help save the cat population from cruelty. That onus has fallen upon police agencies that are limited in their resources and ability to enforce the act, according to Higgins. It has been that way since the elimination of the special constables under the provincial SPCA organization.
In recent days and weeks, there continues to be many other incidents of animal neglect and cruelty reported to Scaredy Cat Rescue. Although it was formed to help control the stray feline population by trapping, neutering and releasing cats from colonies in the community, the group has become much more. The volunteers have frequently helped save abandoned and neglected felines throughout the area.
Higgins said the reports of abuse come in daily, if not more frequently.
A kitten was recently found alone near the Lewin Parkway on Wednesday. Yet another cat, left to fend for itself in the harsh winter elements, had to have its tail amputated, she said.
Scaredy Cat Rescue was recently contacted to help a colony of cats in Stephenville. The colony is unwanted by area residents, leaving the trap, neuter and release policy of the group ineffective if nobody is caring for the animals. Furthermore, in December, two of those cats were found dead. They are suspected to have been poisoned.
Also this week, a cat that was possibly caught in a snare on the Baie Verte Peninsula, had its leg amputated. There is a fundraising effort underway by the LaScie Scaredy Cat Rescue group to pay his vet bill and find him a home.
“The outside animals are at our mercy, and many people are displaying very little mercy,” Higgins said. “I am appalled at the stories of animal neglect and cruelty that rarely hit the news.”
She said the volunteers are so busy with hands-on cases there is little or no time for the awareness and education that could make a difference. To deter acts of abuse, she said, justice must be served and publicized. The burden of proof most times, however, is too high to result in charges, let alone convictions.
Meanwhile, people are needed to adopt and foster felines. The local SPCAs are limited in the number of cats they can hold, she said, a number that is woefully inadequate.
“Community cats are nobody’s problem, therefore they are everybody’s responsibility,” she said. “Everyday there are stories such as these, and many times we are powerless to do anything about it.”