Monday, 13 March 2017 08:00

New Vulcan network forms to help decrease feral cat populations

Written by  Stephanie Labbe
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Feral cats are a problem in Vulcan and the surrounding area. Organizers of the Vulcan Community Cat Network hope they can offer some solutions to help the community.      Feral cats are a problem in Vulcan and the surrounding area. Organizers of the Vulcan Community Cat Network hope they can offer some solutions to help the community. Metro image

An area woman has been working hard to help control the cat problem in Vulcan with her ‘Heaven Can Wait’ organization.

Kim Hessel, founder of Heaven Can Wait says there’s been a cat problem in Vulcan for as long as she’s been working in animal welfare. She says it’s not just Vulcan either. There’s also a known cat problem in Blackie, Stavely, Milo and Herronton.
Hessel began Heaven Can Wait (HCW) in 1999 after moving to High River.
Her local newspaper had reported a case of animal cruelty that involved an unwanted cat being tortured to death by a group of young people.
“Starting HCW came about, because of the death of that cat. There were no resources in town to help stray and abandoned animals, and I decided to put my actions where my mouth was,” explains Hessel.
Since it began, HCW has helped thousands of animals and helped make changes in the community.
HCW officials have been teaching the importance of spaying and neutering; finding homes for the many animals who come through the organization; providing lifesaving surgeries and veterinary care to truly distressed animals; starting the Spay It Forward program to help people have their animals spayed/neutered and working with municipal enforcement to house and return to owners running-at-large dogs.
This is only some of the many areas in which HCW has been working over the years to help control animals.
Vulcan isn’t the only community that Hessel has been helping out.
“We plan to continue our support of High River, Okotoks, the M.D. of Foothills and the many smaller communities throughout our area with their domestic animal issues,” adds Hessel.
The Vulcan Community Cat Network (VCCN) was created with support of the Town of Vulcan, to help handle the feral colonies and strays which are reproducing. With public support and time, effort and money, organizers expect to see a decrease in strays.
The VCCN held its first meeting in Vulcan Jan. 24 with about 20 people in attendance.
Hessel says an overview of the situation in Vulcan was presented at the meeting and a discussion was held afterwards with community members as to their specific concerns. There also were volunteer sign-up sheets available with specific job descriptions in order to get a commitment from those interested in helping to solve the problem.
“Problem areas were also discussed and that very night after the meeting, we were able to catch a young female as a result of a lead from one of the attendees,” adds Hessel.
Hessel says there have been a number of community members who have come forward to offer their time to help out.
There are two people willing to set and monitor traps while another has offered space for supply storage in a garage. As well, a woman has offered up a spare room in her home for recovering surgeries and a number of farm and acreage owners are willing to take cats to their properties once spayed or neutered.
One person has volunteered to help drive/transport animals to Hall Veterinary Service. Dr. Hall is making his clinic available for short-notice surgeries and discounting those surgeries to help the whole endeavour succeed.
“My hope is to make a significant difference with the help of VCCN volunteers, to reduce the numbers of unwanted, stray and feral cats in the community and to offer more organized and humane efforts to manage the situation,” adds Hessel. “Ultimately, too, my hope is that the community itself will want to form their own organization that is spearheaded and managed by local community members — a grassroots, small-town effort to address and handle the issues in their own towns.”
HCW is giving the community the tools it needs to start learning how to manage this themselves and committing a chunk of money to help them move it forward.
Hessel says one of the things they learned in the planning stages of VCCN was that many residents wanted to help the strays and lessen the mortality rates due to cats being hit by cars, diseases and human apathy.
“It’s hard to know where to start when you feel overwhelmed by the ‘bigness’ of the project,” adds Hessel.
That is where HCW comes in to offer advice, training and to start the conversation with Town officials, bylaw enforcement and its community members to help people understand there are answers, but it’s going to take a group effort.
“I think we’re off to a good start and with just a bit of help, the people of Vulcan will be able to deal with the cat overpopulation issue effectively,” adds Hessel.

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