Judy Hunter’s heart has always been in rescue. As a child she used to bring home cats and kittens that she found wandering around the Lion’s Club, and as an adult Judy has spent countless hours volunteering with the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). Her volunteer work with the SPCA, whose average annual intake is about 1000 animals in a town of about 15,000 people, made Judy aware of how many animals get dumped and/or relinquished.
The experience also made her aware of useful animal services that an average small shelter can’t provide. In 2003, with the idea of providing those services, Judy and several other volunteers came up with the idea of Central Paws, a group whose primary mandate is to prevent animal homelessness in the Central Newfoundland region. I first wrote about Central Paws in 2016, and recently did a follow-up interview with Judy.
ALLISON: What are the most common reasons cats are relinquished to you?
JUDY: Over the 16 years that Central Paws has been involved with re-homing animals, owners have no longer been able to care for them for a number of reasons, such as affordability, allergies, moving, or change in lifestyle and circumstances. However, the last few years our role has shifted due mainly to the enormous number of “dumped” cats/kittens in communities throughout Newfoundland. Most of these cats had turned “feral” (unused to human contact and in turn had young were born void of any human contact and they in turn had young. This was noted all throughout the island as groups of people attempted to combat the problem faced by these cats.
The cause of this overpopulation of cats occurred because the original owners didn’t have their “free to a good home” kitten spayed/neutered. There are no “free to spay/neuter” programs. Kittens become of age to breed at four to five months, and can have up to three litters a year. The owners likely discovered that shelters and rescues were full and no one wanted a cat that was now peeing around and so it was put outside where of course it became pregnant. Cats don’t discriminate with which cat they breed once the time comes.
ALLISON: What other programs does Grand Falls-Windsor have to help cats?
JUDY: As there is a SPCA and Animal Control, we actually do not pick up strays. We have over the years taken in animals from the SPCA and they have taken in animals we have sent their way. With no shelter outside, we try and concentrate on helping outside GFW. If we’re in a position to help a animal that cannot go to the shelter for any number of reasons then we step in. We recently took in a six-week-old kitten that only weighed 1.1 pound.
We have provided low-cost spay neuters programs in all areas in Central Newfoundland. Right now, due to lack of funds and concentration on the feral cat issue, that program is on a shelf.)
We have also provided humane education to the schools in GFW. Due to lack of volunteers, sadly, that too has been curtailed.
ALLISON: How can the needs of cats be better addressed?
JUDY: Communities need to recognize the benefit of spay/neuter and TNR programs. They also need to put funds into humane education. There simply is not enough resources people wise or money wise without help from the community.
ALLISON: What are the most commonly asked questions adopters ask?
JUDY: Most ask about the cost, whether the cat is good with children, and does the cat shed. Our mandate is prevention. All our adopted animals are spayed/neutered by our organization, we test cats for diseases, and we place them as only indoor cats.
ALLISON: What are most innovative ways that the public have helped you?
JUDY: We have had some great supporters over the years. We had a group of musicians who put together a show and donated proceeds to both our organization and the SPCA. We also had a group of Sunday School children held a bake sale and raised funds that they donated to both our organization and the SPCA.
People donate when I put a plea for help. We’re posted as a charity therefore sub charities such as United Ways and Canada Helps send donations that they receive on our behalf.
These donations let us spend time doing what we need to do for animals needing our help. We don’t need to burn the candle at both ends by doing fundraising as well.