More than 32 cats at FVHS facility

Executive director works hard to keep shelter going with minimal budget

Editor, The Record:

As a long time Mission resident and volunteer for the Fraser Valley Humane Society, I would like to commend Mission council for supporting the shelter with emergency funds. I think it is important, however, to clear up some misconceptions that were brought up during the Oct. 21 meeting.

One councillor stated that, with only 32 cats, the cost per cat per month is $250, but there are many more cats in the society’s care than that. The FVHS spays, neuters and vet checks all cats and kittens in its care then takes great pains to adopt them into loving homes. The vacant spots are then filled from a long waiting list. They are also responsible for many cats in foster care in addition to the numerous kittens and cats that are dropped off at the shelter at various times throughout the year. Occasionally, the number of cats in care goes way up, such as when the Willows apartments tragically burned down and the FVHS was called upon to take in many cats that were suddenly homeless in order to give their owners a chance to get back on their feet.

Another concern was the executive director’s salary and an unfounded accusation of “spending out of control” when nothing could be further from the truth. What the figures don’t show is the thousands of dollars that are saved by building good working relationships with local vets and other area businesses, resulting in a significant reduction in shelter expenses every year. These savings include grants to pay for much-needed upgrades such as new, roomier cages, paint and construction materials, as well as reduced costs on food, litter and other supplies. The shelter itself is spotless and extremely well run.

Last year, a province-wide outbreak of ringworm afflicted many Lower Mainland cat shelters, including the SPCA. The difficult decision to close the shelter until all cats and kittens were cleared of the fungus resulted in four months with almost no income. Executive director Celia Durst kept the place going during this time.

You would be hard pressed to find another manager who could keep a charity on such a meagre budget going for as long as she has under such difficult circumstances. In fact, she may be a victim of her own success by keeping expenses artificially low. All of this puts staff wages much lower than 40 per cent and in line with other non-profits.

Just as I would not want to live in a city that did not have parks, a leisure centre or a library, I would not want to live in a city that did not have a humane animal care facility.

Cathy Hamm

Mission

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