If election season can be equated to a rat race, then the action at the polling booths in one B.C. town may get a lot hairier this year with the entry of a dozen last-minute CATenders.
With wiggling tails and a hunger for rodent fillet, 12 residents from the Chilliwack Animal Safe Haven shelter have put their paws forward as CATidates in this year’s Civic Connection Feline Election.
After reading an article about an American community that elected a cat as mayor, Safe Haven volunteer Philip Tingey came up with a local feline version.
“It gave me the idea that it would be kind of fun to run our own election to parallel the civic election here,” said Tingey, who’s been donating his time to the animal shelter for nearly four years.
And with platforms like “If elected, I promise I will not commit faux paws on Pouncil,” and “I believe in teamwork; I am not a pawtocrat,” it’s apparent the claws are out, even at this early stage, but Tingey says that’s okay.
The cat election is “about creating more awareness of the Chilliwack Animal Safe Haven and what we do.”
Opened in 2003, the Chilliwack Animal Safe Haven Society is a registered non-profit no-kill animal shelter that focuses its efforts on the local feline population.
“The Animal Safe Haven dedicated to saving homeless cats and helping pets stay in loving homes, and cultivating respect and awareness for the rights and needs of animals,” said Tingey.
And although the event could’ve been used as an opportunity to raise money for the shelter, organizers decided to use it as an attention getter, both for the shelter and the race for seats in the local government.
“It’s not really a fundraiser. It’s about us being here, attracting (attention), and getting people to come out and meet the cats, volunteer, or ideally, adopt a cat,” he explained.
That said, feline electoral hopefuls will still accept campaign donations, however, Tingey notes “the bribing of candidates with Temptations or other types of cat treats is strictly prohibited under the Provincial Feline Elections Act, R.S.B.C. 2003.”
Outside of the furry puns and photos of endearing cats, the Civic Connection Feline Election has a more serious purpose.
“We’re encouraging people to (not only) vote in our election, but also in the municipal election,” added Animal Safe Haven president, Lynn Torgalson.
“Municipal politics affect us more directly than federal or provincial politics because these are the people who run our city,” Torgalson continued. “But civic elections don’t seem to get much turnout, which is very sad.”
So following lead from its human-counterpart, voters who partake in the feline election will be able to choose one meowyor and four pouncillors, who have all promised to tackle the key issues cats in Chilliwack are facing in the 21st century and how the community can help address those issues.
“It’s very hard to find pet-friendly rentals,” explained Torgalson, “so it would be really, really nice if there was a lot more pet-friendly accommodation available in Chilliwack.”
Torgalson estimates upwards of 20 per cent of the shelter’s cats have be surrendered “because their owners have moved and are no longer able to have a pet where they’re going to.
“But the more attention we can get for the shelter, the better is is for the cats,” so the feline election will run concurrent with the municipal election. Because at the end of the day, the shelter just wants to find as many feline fur-ever homes as possible for its residents.
Should you wish a one-on-one with any of the Animal Safe Haven’s feline CATidadates, or another of its 110 cats, please drop by the shelter during open hours to discuss their platform and deliver as many ear and chin scratches as you’d like.