In The News :: Media coverage

Here are 64 Reasons to Change a Life

Donations allow Hamilton/Burlington SPCA to come to the rescue

November 25, 2018, Op-ed published in The Hamilton Spectator by Marion Emo

Over five days in October, two officers and three animal care staff at your Hamilton/Burlington SPCA (HBSPCA) rescued 64 cats and kittens from one dwelling. Imagine — 64 cats of all ages competing for food, water, play and sleep space, privacy and respite, and litter in one small space. As you know, it is not possible for cats or their people to be healthy and thriving in these circumstances. Sadly, kittens rarely survive.

Finding cats in these conditions is not unusual for our protection officers, however the number of cats in this case was. People with good intentions to rescue abandoned cats find themselves overwhelmed with just a few cats, then their numbers and conditions quickly escalate out of control. The outcomes for the cats in these crowded and unsanitary conditions are not often positive. The cats suffer malnutrition, infection, bite wounds, bad teeth and chronic illness.

For these 64 cats, donors’ gifts from animal lovers like you make the difference. Miraculously, all 64 are on the road to finding their new forever homes because people like you care. Their journey to health is variable. All the cats needed food, water, flea treatment, grooming, deworming, nail trims, vaccinations and, most importantly, love! Most required treatment for urine infections and respiratory problems, and all but eight required a spay or neuter. We performed numerous surgeries for bite wounds, teeth extractions, eye enucleations … the list goes on.

The work does not stop here. The HBSPCA works with community services and first responders to recognize the signs of hoarding, and how to support people who can’t help themselves. Hoarding and its consequences happen when people don’t have the resources to care for pets, they don’t recognize the impact this has on pets, and they do not seek help, whether there are six cats or 60 cats. This sad state is exacerbated when those who have eyes and ears on the situation may not recognize the impact on cats — “they’re cats, they’ll be OK,” are reluctant to incur harm for the caregiver, or don’t know where to turn.

It takes a village to help animals thrive and their people, too. Our pet companions can’t speak — we need to speak for them. Cats need no less than dogs — food and water, preventive care, and the freedom to express themselves naturally. The pet parents are at risk, too, they do not reach out and they need our voice. Ignoring the plight of hoarded animals undervalues both the pet companions whom we otherwise call “people’s best friends” and the pet parents.

Sometimes the solution requires that an individual be prohibited from owning a pet. For others, it’s possible that animal insights, help with pet care and personal support can help a pet parent thrive with one cat at home, maybe two; the health and wellness outcomes make it worth while.

Because you care, 64 lives are dramatically changing. Four cats among the 64 will go to a new home healthy, safe and wanted with one eye each. Two cats — Connor and Balboa — will go home blind, yet healthy, safe and wanted. These formerly at-risk cats and their adopter families will thrive together.

Please remember the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA does not receive any government funding for any of the care, housing and veterinary care of animals in our shelter. This is all made possible through the generosity of supporters like you.

November is philanthropy month. I invite you to give the gift of changing a life on Giving Tuesday at Connor and Balboa’s goal: $25,000 for them and their 62 mates and, sadly, the others like them who will need our help tomorrow and next week.

Marion Emo is president and CEO of Hamilton/Burlington SPCA. The SPCA keeps people and pets together. Donors make it all possible: affordable spay-neuter programs, health checks for pets fostered with Zachary’s Paws for Healing, and veterinary care for pets belonging to our most vulnerable citizens and for whom their pet is their best friend, and for owned pets who otherwise would be surrendered to shelter care.