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Cat room could close: Northumberland Animal Shelter in need of volunteers

Posted on Wednesday, August 13, 2014 at 8:00 am

Judy Clark pets and comforts Isabelle at the animal shelter.

Judy Clark pets and comforts Isabelle at the animal shelter.

More volunteers for the cat rooms at the Northumberland Animal Shelter are needed.

Otherwise, the Shelter will no longer be able to provide shelter for them.

Angie Balderson,  Shelter Director, said the problem  began last July when a little stray kitten was picked up at waste management and taken into the shelter.

It was the first cat to die, although there was no indication that the kitten was gravely ill. It was the same case with the next two cats, who were found dead in the cat room.

The vet told them that the disease could spread to all the other cats that were in the room with them. The decision was a hard one to

make, but it was thought that it would be better to euthanize them than to let them linger and suffer as the other cats did until they, too, died.  “It was a very difficult time here for all of us at the Shelter.  The staff and cat room volunteers were all devastated,” Balderson said.

The entire room and duct work had to be  professionally cleaned.  They had to dispose of most of their cat -room equipment and supplies. The decision was made to close the cat room.

“We carefully considered the many requests from the community asking us to again give our county’s homeless and lost cats a place to stay until their owner could claim them, or for potential adopters to come meet them,” Balderson said.

The cat room  re-opened last November with new procedures in place. Previously when the cats came in and before they became ill, staff did not vaccinate the cats or have them tested for Feline Leukemia or FIV.

Now, all new cats are placed in a holding area where they are observed for signs  of illness. Once their holding period is up, they are taken to the vet , tested for feline Leukemia and FIV.  If they test negative for both, they are vaccinated  and are then placed in the Cat Adoption Room.

Balderson said that with these procedures in place, it will cut down the chances of disease and harming the general cat population like before.

“Seems simple enough, right?” Balderson said; however, she added that “this new way of doing things makes a whole lot more work to be done.”

“We do not have enough volunteers to do all this extra work,” she said. It takes  anywhere from 3 to 4 hours per day to  just clean and sanitize two cat rooms properly. New cats need to be transported to the veterinarian’s office for testing; records need to be kept, medications given, and there is also lots of laundry to be done.

Then, cats and kittens must be shown to potential adopters and questions answered.

Plus, the cats and kittens need to be socialized; volunteers get the opportunity to play with all the cats and kittens.

Since re-opening the cat rooms last November 4, just four people have been doing all the work and it is too much for those four to do it all.

If a few more volunteers aren’t found, the cat rooms may have to shut down again.

—See the full story in the August 13 edition of the Northumberland Echo!