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Cat shelter at risk of close
Mission's only cat shelter and adoption centre might not make it to the end of the year.
With just $2,000 in the bank, the Fraser Valley Humane Society (FVHS) and its volunteers have their work cut out for them to continue an operation which needs at least $8,000 a month.
Donations are low at this time of year and this isn't the first time the non-profit organization has faced this challenge, but it could be their last.
"We're a very low priority for people, but there are lots of kittens and cats everywhere in the community," said Celia Durst, FVHS executive director.
Volunteers are tired, and the same ones are being called upon to constantly fundraise even though they're getting older. The group was shattered last month when Mission council refused to even explore the idea of working with other animal control groups to establish a new facility for unwanted pets.
It's a serious problem and council doesn't seem to be behind us, Durst observed.
At its recent annual general meeting, two of the five board members resigned and the membership was told if help doesn't come through, the facility may close.
"We don't have any cushion," explained Durst. "Perhaps now we have to lay off staff."
Staff wages take up $5,000 of the group's $8,000 monthly budget. Durst is the only full-time employee, and there are two part-time helpers as well. Wages have already been reduced from last year, and the executive director's pay, which does not include benefits, has been frozen for four years.
The society's sales revenue, which include adoptions, membership fees, etc., increased by seven per cent this year (from $37,494 in 2011-2012 to $40,221 from 2012-2013), but its grants and gaming revenue decreased by 14 per cent compared to last year (from $31,804 to $27,285), and donations are down 20 per cent (from $38,575 to $30,818).
Currently, they also owe about $5,000 in vet bills.
FVHS was formed 14 years ago to help look after feral and unwanted cats in the community. The society has been at its current location, at the corner of North Railway Avenue and James Street, for about 10 years, and was asking the district to help find a new building in order to expand and improve working conditions for employees. There is no heat or air conditioning in the building. The facility can hold up to 40 cats and the cages are always full, said Durst.
The society has been turning away people and their cats for months now, despite being told the owners would dispose of the animals themselves by leaving them on the railway tracks or releasing them into the wild.
"It breaks my heart to hear that," said Durst, who has provided names of other animal agencies people can bring their pets too, but notes those shelters are at capacity too. "We're the only cat shelter in Mission. People come to us because they know their animal will be safe here. But we still have to say no."
FVHS has a no-kill policy.
Durst suspects there will be another FVHS meeting called in the next few weeks for members who will then decide the next steps.
In the meantime, numerous fundraisers are being organized to help.
For more information about the Fraser Valley Humane Society and how you can help, visit fraservalleyhumanesociety.com.
• Oct. 19: Adopt-A-Block trash for cash. Volunteers needed, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
• Oct. 20: Roast beef or vegetarian pasta dinner at Station House, 6 p.m.
• Nov. 15: Bake sale at Prospera Credit Union beginning at 9:30 a.m. Bakers needed.
If you would like information about any of these events, call 604-820-2977.