By Marc Ralsky
We are in this together! (Have you heard that before?)
Feline Fridays, Meow Mondays and Whisker Wednesdays are all great marketing slogans and social media hash tags or subject lines. The one thing they all have in common is the intention to get the public to pay attention to cats.
The reason why we are emphasizing felines is because there are lots of cats everywhere in the city. Some reports suggest there are close to half a million cats that live on the streets in the GTA or in any large urban centre like ours.
Pet over-population is a community concern, one that we created. Most of us shrug away the issue as not being our concern. We hear ourselves saying, “Those animal people at the humane society or SPCA will deal with it. That’s what they get all that government money for.”
To clear up the myth, there is no government funding for animal welfare issues. None. Most animal welfare organizations, whether it be the local rescue group, urban humane society, the SPCA or provincial animal welfare group, rely solely on the generosity of their donors and corporate supporters.
They receive limited support, yet are stuck with the difficult decisions that society places on them. This is followed by public outcry when they hear about a bad case of animal cruelty or a harrowing removal of hundreds of cats from a house on an affluent city street. ‘They’ should have done something sooner.
When it comes to pet overpopulation, there is no “us” or “them”, it is we.
We have to do something about it together. There is no magic panacea to make it go away, unfortunately. There are just easy-to-do, common-sense steps.
Everyone needs to spay and neuter their pets – plain and simple. When you take away the ability to reproduce, it stops most of the battle immediately. Keep your cats indoors, especially if they are not spayed or neutered.
When we adopt or buy a cute kitten or pup from whatever source, it has to be a lifelong, forever commitment. Taking a pet home doesn’t come with a 60-day trial and chance to return for a full refund.
We need to own the situation and do our part to change the cycle of pet overpopulation. The great part is we can do it. It starts with all of us owning the problem, helping to solve the problem and assisting the groups that work in this sector with donations, volunteer hours and support.
Several animal welfare organizations in and around our city offer low-cost spay and neuter services and many vet offices in the city also have great pricing. A great place to start is www.fixyourpet.ca
The website is full of information and links to more resources. Do your part. Make the call and help FIX the situation.
Marc Ralsky shares his life and north Toronto home with his wife and three Siberian huskies, and has been around animals and dogs all his life. A true animal welfare enthusiast he recently joined the Ontario SPCA as their new director of community and donor development after a long tenure as a senior director at a national health research foundation. Follow him at @OSPCAMarc