Mobile clinic offers fix for cats
Ryan Huurman watches as registered veterinary technician Michelle Burgoyne preps a cat for surgery, while Dr. Jennifer Farr (right) of Brantford performs a procedure on Sunday October 15, 2017. Simcoe area resident Catie Metcalfe arranged to bring in a mobile SPCA unit to perform over 40 spaying and neutering procedures on feral cats and ones which owners could not otherwise afford to have the surgery done. Brian Thompson/Brantford Expositor/Postmedia Network
Simcoe resident Catie Metcalfe is doing her part to reduce the overpopulation of cats in Norfolk.
On Sunday, she opened up her property to the Welland and District SPCA outreach mobile clinic. Inside the travelling trailer, a veterinarian, along with support staff and volunteers, spayed and neutered 42 cats at a minimal cost.
It’s an extension of the volunteer work that has become Metcalfe’s passion.
“I focus on low-income pet owners, individuals caring for multiple cats, barn cats and strays to help reduce the number of unwanted litters and alleviate the burden on shelters,” she said.
Through her work as a community nurse, Metcalfe said she connected with many clients who were feeding stray cats but couldn’t afford to get them fixed.
When she retired, she took a street cats workshop in Toronto and began taking cats to that city to get spayed and neutered at a low-cost clinic.
Metcalfe, with the help of friends Lucy McClellan, also of Simcoe, and Nancy McGugan of Delhi, have taken about 475 cats to various low-cost spay and neuter clinics over the past three years.
“It’s a rural area,” said Metcalfe. “There are so many cats that are sick and go blind with respiratory illness. It’s heartbreaking. When they get fixed they get healthier and live longer but won’t have more babies.”
In May, Norfolk County entered into agreements with Norfolk PAWS and the Simcoe and District Humane Society for a neuter-and-release/adoption program, with each organization receiving $25,000 in county money to help with their respective programs.
At the time, Mayor Charlie Luke said the local humane society estimated there are tens of thousands of feral cats in Norfolk in dozens of colonies.
Neuter-and-release is considered a humane approach to reducing their numbers over time. Those that are fit for adoption can be kept for that purpose.
The Welland and District SPCA mobile clinic was established three years ago, said Nina Turmel, investigations dispatcher and mobile co-ordinator for the organization, after being approached by a First Nations community that had an issue with roaming dogs.
The mobile clinic has travelled to many First Nations in the spring and fall to provide low-cost neutering for dogs and cats. It also provides wellness services, including exams, deworming, flea and tick treatment, and microchipping.
“We are making a difference in the communities,” said Turmel. “When we go back for a third year in a row, community members say they notice a difference. There is a reduction in the number of roaming animals.
Metcalfe assists as much as she can with the cost of surgeries through money from fundraisers and funds generated through recycling of pop cans, LCBO containers, electrical wiring and batteries. It’s an effort she calls Cans for Cats.
“I’ll do this until I’m not needed anymore,” said Metcalfe. “There are a lot of groups working on this for a common goal. Hopefully, the situation will get more under control.”