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2014 CFHS National Animal Welfare Conference
Community-based strategies to reduce Cat overpopulation.
Dr. Katharine Jones, DVM, Ottawa Stray Cat Rescue
Zoe Stevens-Lavigne, Ottawa Stray Cat Rescue
Kelsie Linfoot, Ottawa Stray Cat Rescue
Forming and Running an Efficient Rescue Organization
This presentation will describe the process by which the Ottawa Stray Cat Rescue organization was
formed, and how it has evolved. Assimilation of volunteers, roles, and management of the rescue as a
team approach will be explained. Specific ethical concerns and problems are discussed, including
differentiating which cats receive “trap-neuter-return” treatment, versus “intake” into foster homes for
adoption. Necessary organizational documents, such as a proper Constitution, and others will be listed
and briefly explained. Factors involved in the debate to become incorporated and/or achieve charitable
status are interpreted and presented. Vital technology will be introduced, such as comprehensive
database, financial management, publicity and advertising. Website and social media remain mainstays
to rescue growth and success, and there are ways that we have succeeded and failed in publicizing
these.
Resolution of conflicts amongst team members, volunteers, and public will be presented. Financial
growth patterns will be discussed: upfront costs and out-of-pocket expenses are replaced by adoption
and donation revenue as the community becomes more aware of the rescue. When and how to pursue
formal fundraising, types of fundraising, and ideas for other organizations will be shared.
The second portion of the presentation will focus on trap-neuter-return (TNR). Discussion will
incorporate the definition of TNR, identification and condition of feral cats and colonies, and other
considerations. There is and will always be ethical debate with TNR programs, and we will touch on
this slightly. Coordination and management of colony feeders, property owners, and initializing TNR
will be presented. An overview of the materials and labour involved shall be shared. Techniques used
to trap elusive cats, tips and hindrances, and methods which failed will be presented. A distinct
approach to feral cats (versus friendly stray cats) will be described.
The final component of organization management pertains to working with the public and local
communities in an efficient and safe manner. Identification of "backyard rescuers”, hoarders,
concerned citizens, and dedicated colony caretakers is required, and each individual is managed
differently. Community cat nuisance behaviours will be identified and some solutions presented.
Solicitation for foster homes, and coordinating adoptions necessitates effective communication and
networking with the public. Liaising with other rescue organizations, the local shelter or humane
society, veterinary hospitals, pet stores, and business also assists in increasing public awareness,
fundraising, as well as adoptions. Working harmoniously with a local veterinary hospital is imperative,
and methods of finding a like-minded veterinarian, and how to maintain a working relationship, will be
presented. Feral cat medical care requires realism, logic, and some improvisation, but is a requirement
to reducing stray and feral cat populations and the burden on rescues, shelters and humane societies.
Key Learnings
1. Describe how to form and run an efficient rescue organization.
2. Commence an efficient TNR program and get the most out of available resources.
3. Share how to work effectively with different people: backyard rescuers, volunteers,
veterinarians, etc.
Bios:
Dr. Katharine Jones grew up in Ottawa, Ontario, but traveled out to the Atlantic Veterinary
College in Prince Edward Island for her veterinary studies. During this time, she was actively
involved in many of the AVC clubs and organizations, but was drawn towards a Trap-NeuterReturn project and actively participated during the years. Dr. Jones won the AVC Feline
Medicine & Surgery Award upon graduation in 2004, and moved back to the Ottawa Valley to
work in a clinical small animal practice. Once again, she found herself drawn into the stray cat
situation, and started to volunteer with local cat rescues who were taking stray cats off the streets
and bringing them into foster homes. It was apparent to her that the stray and feral cat situation
in Ottawa were far more serious than what was actually known. With the help of two
volunteers, Kelsie Linfoot and Zoe Lavigne-Stevens, Ottawa Stray Cat Rescue was initiated and
since October 2011, OSCATR has grown and become not only a cat rescue, but also a TNR
program for the Ottawa area. The goal of the rescue is to bring in stray cats with the purpose of
placing them into adoptive homes, TNR feral colonies, and communicate and create public
awareness.
Dr. Jones is not only involved in some of the veterinary care of these cats, but fosters several,
socializes non-returnable feral kittens & cats, manages and coordinates the TNR and Feral cat
colony program within the rescue, and was the Fundraising coordinator and Treasurer for 2
years. She feels that hands-on work with these cats has taught her so much about feline
socialization and behaviour, especially with regards to feral cats, and has helped with managing
scared felines in clinical practice and making a veterinary visit more pleasant for all. Dr. Jones
strives to enrich cat environments while attempting to maintain normalcy for the ferals, and very
much enjoys teaching clients and anyone interested.
Dr. Jones is not feline biased, as she shares time with her 2 dogs, husband, and until recently, a
ferret. In addition, she has volunteered with the Ottawa Wild Bird Care Centre, and the Rideau
Valley Wildlife Sanctuary.
Zoe Stevens-Lavigne, Ottawa Stray Cat Rescue
Zoe Stevens has worked with the Ottawa Stray Cat Rescue since its formation over two years
ago. She acts as a liaison with adopters to find homes for the Rescue's cats. Zoe is responsible for
screening applicants and matching cats to appropriate families. She also helps with the
adjustment period and follows up with any concerns or problems. In addition to fostering cats,
she has three of her own, 2 rabbits and parrots. Zoe's day job is in association management.
Kelsie Linfoot has worked with Ottawa Stray Cat Rescue since it's inception over two years ago.
She is responsible for the database management, business framework and implementing
electronic tools to support rescue functions. Kelsie has been working towards developing reports
on the numbers of cats entering rescue, adoptions, TNRs and colonies. She also researches local
and international shelter/rescue practice
trends.
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