On May 7, 2012 Vancouver Sun reporter, Shelley Fralic wrote, “Finding Maxine: Domestic Kittens are becoming a rare breed in BC“. In addition to being completely inaccurate, it is blatant irresponsible journalism. Not only does it wrongly contend that there is not a homeless kitten population problem, it inaccurately states that the kittens from Montreal being sold in our local pet shops are rescued from shelters.
A search on petfinder.com on May 8th, 2012 for kittens in British Columbia came back with 207 kittens available through rescues, shelters and the SPCA. In fact, Hazel, a DSH who looks almost identical to Maxine (who Fralic purchase for over $300 at the pet store), is currently at the Coquitlam SPCA waiting for a home. Yesterday, Karen Duncan, Founder and President of Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA) wrote to Fralic informing her that they currently have 97 cats and kittens available for adoption and 188 coming soon (the majority which are kittens). In addition, the Richmond Animal Protection Society has recently taken in a litter of orphaned kittens, along with the over 700 cats currently living at the sanctuary. There is no shortage of homeless kittens and young cats, one only need to have some patience and be willing to do some leg work to find them.
I would also like to challenge the contention that these kittens being sold in the pet stores came from a shelter in Quebec. Quebec is known as the puppy mill capital of Canada and our local pet stores are notorious for acquiring puppies from mills, more specifically puppies from mills that are brokered through the Hunte Corporation. It is not a far stretch, therefore, to say that it is far more likely that these kittens are being bred in mills and are not being rescued from shelters. If, in fact, this pet store was concerned about rescuing kittens from shelters, the kittens would not be initially sold for close to $1,000, only to be reduced when a younger batch comes in. In addition, they would work with local groups to help adopt our their kittens.
I am confused as to why Fralic scoffed at paying a $150 rehoming fee for a kitten posted on Craigslist, but had no issue paying almost $400 for one in a pet store. And finally, I struggle to understand the purpose of this article. Was it to encourage people to stop spaying and neutering their pets, because our efforts have been too successful? Was it to encourage people to buy their next pet from a pet store? Whatever the purpose, what it did achieve was giving all of us who work in animal welfare and rescue in this province a big slap in the face.
Many of these animals are forced to live in overcrowded cages, in their own filth, and do not even have access to clean water and food. When rescued, they are matted, covered in feces and are often suffering from skin and respiratory infections. In addition to its inhumanity, the sale of puppies, kittens and bunnies in pet stores adds to the existing overpopulation of homeless pets as many end up surrendered and abandoned. This increases the financial burden of municipal shelters, which operate with tax payer dollars and community based rescue organizations, who must raise their own funds to respond to the needs of abandoned, abused and neglected animals as there is no funding available to support this life saving work. Many communities are also challenged with large feral cat and rabbit populations, many of which had once been a family pet, only to be abandoned in a park or forested area.
Ms. Fralic’s article has served only to undermine all of our efforts to improve the welfare of animals in our province.