Charlotte Ellice is puzzled.
The branch manager of BC SPCA in West Vancouver doesn’t really know why so many stray cats from the City of North Vancouver end up in West Vancouver. Perhaps it is due to more rental buildings or maybe CNV has a more transitory population; she isn’t sure. What she knows for sure is that there are way more stray cats coming from the city compared to the district, and the number is on the rise.
In 2016, BC SPCA took in 39 stray cats from the city and only four from the district. In 2017, it took 37 stray cats from the city compared to nine from the district. Last year, West Van BC SPCA took in 52 stray cats from the city, majority of whom needed medical care, says Ellice, who made a presentation to the city council last week.
When people notice a stray cat, they either call the SPCA directly, or they call the city, which directs the call to SPCA. The SPCA has a contract with West Vancouver, but the city or the district doesn’t offer any financial aid to it. That needs to change, Ellice says. “We will never turn away an animal that needs help but we are spending thousands of dollars on these cats, and we get no financial help from the city,” she says.
West Van SPCA receives an average of one stray cat every week, and almost all of them need medical attention. “We have had cats come in that have been attacked by wildlife or by other cats. We have had older senior cats with kidney problems and the biggest is poor dental,” she says. Most stray cats also don’t have any ID, which makes it harder for SPCA to track the owner. Despite these challenges, SPCA has managed to find loving homes for over 95 per cent of the animals, including the stray cats.
Ellice has urged the CNV council to direct the city to make identification mandatory, such as a microchip or a collar tag that can clearly identify the owner. Cities such as Dawson Creek and Port Alberni have those bylaws in place and in the latter, as many as 40 per cent of stray cats were reunited with their owners.
Ellice also urged the council to create a broader bylaw, like in Surrey and Richmond, to include cats, along with dogs or rabbits, among animals that can’t be sold at stores. She also called upon the city to include cats in the bylaw that deals with animal cruelty, which only pertains to dogs. Often the city bylaw officials end up calling the West Vancouver SPCA when they see a cat or any other animal being subject to cruelty. In some cases, the owner can cover up that abuse by the time SPCA gets involved. “Why should it be just dogs? If we can include cats and other animals. then the bylaw officials can ticket the offenders,” she says.