It is one of the busiest times of the year for staff at the Penticton SPCA, and finding six kittens abandoned alongside the busy highway just outside Penticton didn’t help.
“Kitten season we call it,” said Jamie Armer, South Okanagan-Similkameen SPCA manager. “We took in the last six weeks probably over 70 cats and kittens which is a shame.”
Armer said the SPCA received a call on Tuesday from a couple stopped at a Highway 97 pullout just outside of Penticton that found three kittens inside a carrier cage with the door open. The couple were advised to have a look to see if there was any other kittens within the proximity and to close the door.
“I arrived about 15 minutes after the call and found the carrier with actually six kittens inside,” said Armer. “There was a bit of junk food in there. Someone had put some fries and a bit of milkshake in the cage with them.”
From June to October cats and kittens mostly come in as strays or surrenders, and although shocking to find kittens abandoned in such a dangerous situation next to the busy highway, Armer said this is just one of many heartbreaking stories.
“Besides the 70 cats we have taken in, we also had another 26 cats surrendered from owners. It is a lot, when you think we are only supposed to house a maximum of around 40 at any one time,” said Armer.
A recent successful adoption drive did help ease some of the congestion at the shelter, but the cats and kittens keep coming in. The six found on the side of the highway were all deemed to be in good health. Armer suspects they hadn’t been there long.
“They are absolutely beautiful and highly adoptable kittens. Normally you expect to see a litter of six identical black kittens, but there are beautiful Siamese cats and ginger tabbies,” he added.
Those who left the animals abandoned on the side of the road could face criminal charges, but Armer said there would have to be conclusive evidence which is tough to come by in these situations. He said the best choice would have been for the owners to call the SPCA to figure out a plan for the kittens.
“We are not here to make people feel bad. We are here to try and educate people so if they end up in that circumstance once, perhaps we can educate them so they don’t end up in that circumstance again,” Armer said.
The SPCA manager suggests people with unwanted pets to call them first. Turning up at the shelter doorstep isn’t always the best either because the shelter is quite full and there can be a waiting list.
“We tend to favour people who have attempted to re-home some of the litter themselves first. We have a full house and our foster families are at capacity as well,” said Armer.
Those interested in becoming a foster family can inquire with the SPCA. Armer said it is a simple process and a matter of checking on what sort of home environment the potential foster family has to judge what kind of space they have for say a litter of kittens or a litter with a mom.
“It can be quite rewarding the foster program, but also quite difficult. A lot of people find it hard to bring the animals back and we do have a lot of foster homes that end up adopting the animals,” said Armer.
Help is also accepted in other forms such as monetary donations, Canadian Tire money, wet cat and dog food, office supplies, blankets (they do not accept pillows, sleeping bags or comforters due to the amount of time it takes to wash), towels and cleaning supplies. The SPCA also has two fundraising events coming up with the Dog Days of Summer at See Ya Later Ranch Winery in Okanagan Falls on Sept. 1 and Paws For A Cause on Sept. 8 at Gyro Park. Registration is at 10:30 a.m. with the walk at noon.
“Paws For A Cause is our biggest event of the year. We encourage people to register, raise some money and come out with their dogs for the walk and enjoy the day,” said Armer, of the event which aims to raise $32,000.
Prizes will be handed out for best-dressed dog, there will be kids activities, the humane education team will be there, local vendors, a barbecue and more.