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City seeks allies in curbing cat population
Too man stray felines for shelters
Donna Campbell is a cat lady and it pains her to see so many stray cats wandering the city.
After finding a litter of five that had been abandoned by their mother, she decided to see what could be done. What she found, she said, were a lot of agencies to help dogs, packed animal shelters and foster organizations, and a other groups that could help fix animals, if they had the funding. What she didn’t find, she said, was a person to pull it all together.
“There is no central body to coordinate this,” Campbell said, leafing through pages of names and contact information as well as newspaper clippings on the issue.
The answer may well lie with Augie Gonzalez, Porterville’s Animal Control supervisor. He knows the issues, how complicated everything is, and has been trying to network in every way possible with local organizations and other animal groups to help bring down the cat population in the city.
Gonzalez has had some success in extending the services offered by PAC, and is still aggressively moving on the plan he has for the city. This plan includes seeing to the construction of a Porterville shelter, and feels he could break ground on that within six to eight months.
His networking efforts have paid off as he is joining with another group that can bring money into the shelter in the form of grants. By networking with other shelters, he is building a statewide adoption cooperative to increase the chances of adoptions through rotating animals to areas where their chances of being adopted are higher.
Closer to home, Gonzalez has reached out to the community for volunteers and donations, and is nearly done with the paperwork that will allow PAC to be an approved supplier for PetSmart, which, according to the company’s website, has a charity that works with local organizations to “save the lives of homeless pets, raise awareness of companion animal welfare issues and promote healthy relationships between people and pets through adoption, spay/neuter initiatives, emergency relief programs, and our Rescue Waggin’ program.”
If Gonzalez succeeds, PetSmart will run adoption events and display cats at the Porterville location.
“That partnership will be a win/win,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez understands the community’s frustration, as he knows the feral cat problem is one that is difficult to solve. Even so, Gonzalez says, the problem was created by the residents of Porterville, which means it needs to be rectified by people as well.
The cause of out-of-control cat population, Gonzalez said, is “negligent animal owners not utilizing the spay and neuter programs.”
According to him, cat owners believe that there is nothing wrong with allowing their cats to roam free. Tulare County Animal Control website lists a number of common reasons why the same sort of pet owners would neglect getting their animals spayed or neutered. More importantly, it notes the “advantages” of the surgery on the animals: it reduces overpopulation, takes away an animal’s urge to roam in search of a mate, and increases an animal’s lifespan, usually by decreasing its chances of developing a terminal disease in its reproductive organs, like breast or testicular cancer. Spaying females and neutering males also affects their behaviors in a positive way; females will no longer go through the mood swings of heat, and males will no longer act sexually aggressive, territorial, and may stop spraying altogether.
Gonzalez would love to be able to shelter cats at the city’s shelter west of Lindsay, but has no room to do so. He has been able to extend the services provided by PAC, but is hindered by funding.
“I don’t like to turn people away and disappoint,” Gonzalez said. “I have a hard time not being able to provide services.”
As an animal lover, however, he is aggressive in trying to solve these issues, to the point where even if he cannot house cats, he is willing to help control their population.
“If they (Porterville residents) trap and detain them for us, we will pick them up,” Gonzalez said, adding that the shelter will also perform spaying or neutering procedures on the animals before re-releasing them. Gonzalez says that another organization in the area which has done a lot for not just dogs, but cats in the area, is the Big Fix program through the Valley animal Coalition. After they spay or neuter cats, Gonzalez says, they clip their ears to signal to PAC staff the animals have had a monetary investment made in them.
Gonzalez says that the planned Porterville-based shelter was always intended to house cats, since the first proposed drawings and Gonzalez is determined to see that shelter built, even if it takes building a part of it himself.
“There are a lot of things we can make happen ourselves,” he said, giving the example of landscaping, which, he said, could easily be completed by him and a group of volunteers. The more he and volunteers can do on the shelter, the less money will need to be spent on the construction.
Until that time, however, Campbell and other cat lovers can choose to see the plight of strays in Porterville as a hard reality filled with feral cats that will live difficult lives and will either die in the wild, or by being euthanize ... or animal lovers can step up to help cats and other pet owners which may not have the funds by donating money, or even volunteer time, to the Porterville Animal Shelter or any of the organizations in the area that are trying to fix the problem by fixing the pets.
“Get your cat spayed or neutered,” Gonzalez said.
Valley Animal Coalition (The Big Fix) - http://www.valleyanimalcoalition.org/
Concerned People for Animals - http://www.concernedpeopleforanimals.org/adoptionsCats.html
Animal Control - http://www.portervillepolice.com/animalcontrol.html
Porterville Animal Rescue Team - Nicki Edwards - 781-1493
Love of Animals - http://www.loveofanimals.org/
Central Valley Rescue Railroad, Lindsay - http://www.cvrr.us/
Tulare County Animal Control - 636-3647
Valley Oak SPCA, Visalia - 651-1111