Thursday, August 26, 2010

Humane Society Reopens Kitten Nursery

Brace yourselves, cat lovers!
The Toronto Humane Society has re-opened its kitten nursery.
And as bright eyes glanced out from their cages Thursday – several raising tentative paws before crawling onto their mom to suckle – resistance was almost futile.
Only two litters were present.
“We’re taking in kittens on a limited basis,” executive director Garth Jerome said in the recently reopened, extensively renovated River St. shelter’s nursery.
Several litters were being fostered overnight, returning soon to be available for adoption. Vulnerable while young, “these kittens are far better off in homes than in cages,” where they could be exposed to ailments or disease, Jerome said. And fostering helps acclimatize them with people.
With the THS no longer affiliated with the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Jerome said for legal reasons, strays are not being accepted.
Strays once accounted for up to 85% of all cats at the shelter, he said. The OSPCA seized the shelter and had several executives arrested last November. All charges were dropped recently.
Under provincial regulations, “veterinarians need protection ... before we can take strays,” Jerome said. With a new board of directors and the shelter only recently re-opened, “there are also ownership concerns.”
Over the years, people launched lawsuits seeking the return of wandering pets taken to the shelter by well-meaning passersby, some by animal activists plus critics of owners leaving animals in back yards.
Problems also arose when people “scooped up a neighbour’s animal and brought it in, saying they had found it,” the cat or dog was adopted out before the owner tracked it down, or it was euthanized due to illness, Jerome said. “In some cases, an owner didn’t want to pay the bill for treatment.”
He said the THS is negotiating with Toronto Animal Services to allow foundlings to be taken to the shelter on a regular basis.
“We have a meeting in the first week of September, but for now queens with litters come from two cat rescue groups, so we don’t encounter issues of ownership,” Jerome said, adding TAS “have sent us a dog or two and some cats, so we’re very hopeful.”
Spayed or neutered around six weeks of age, as long as they weighing a healthy 700 grams, some kittens are returned to the rescuers for temporary fostering.
But with an inviting smile, Jerome said some newly-spayed or neutered juveniles “are made available right away.”

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