, Salem, MA


April 6, 2013

Column: Why we need more animal shelters

It is spring again, and homeless cats and, to a lesser extent, dogs are being noticed in the streets of our cities and towns. Citizens are calling with information regarding the location of a stray or homeless cat or kittens and want someone to jump into action. People are often under the false impression that every city has an animal shelter and people who are paid to take care of the homeless animal population.

Not so. The animal control officers are not responsible for homeless cats.

Who is? Good question! Many cats were discarded by thoughtless owners to fend for themselves when the owner was moving. Many of these cats have not been spayed or neutered, so they reproduced. Their offspring become feral (wild) and not used to human contact.

These kittens can be trapped with humane traps and socialized as long as they are under 8 weeks old. The mothers should also be trapped and spayed and placed somewhere. But where? And who will do this immense task? Are there people who do this for a living? Where are they? Do they get paid? No, there is no one, just a few volunteers who have taken it upon themselves to help. They do as much as they can with limited resources.

And when they catch these mothers and kittens, then what?

Is there a shelter that can take these animals and house them and work with them to get them friendly enough so they can be adopted? Not really, because shelters want animals that can be adopted fast to make room for new ones. There is no shortage of animals that need new homes; many landlords don’t allow pets anymore, other landlords charge pet deposits many people can’t afford, or some people simply don’t want to be bothered with their cat or dog any longer.

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