Sir: I am writing you in response to a number of articles re: PAWR (Pet and Wildlife Rescue), and the perceived and real responsibilities of that organization.
First, it is with great dismay that I read that PAWR is no longer a rescue operation, and moreover, has nothing to do with wildlife.
Both these situations are just so wrong, on multiple levels.
As I understand it, PAWR was awarded the contract for the animal shelter in Chatham last November over bids by two other experienced providers. They were originally a group of volunteers helping animals in a way they saw needed such help, out of compassion and concern. However, when they took on the shelter, understandably, they did not fully realize the extent of the job requirements, and as they make their way, have come to the understanding that they cannot fulfill some of the commitments they expected to handle.
For example, I am astounded at the number of dogs turned in or found in just the short time PAWR has been in operation: 387 dogs!
Out of those, evidently 167 were adopted, and 146 returned to their guardians (146 dogs lost). That leaves 74. Were they euthanized in a supposedly no-kill shelter? The number of other animals, particularly cats, is tragically much higher. Considering these figures alone, it is no wonder the folks of PAWR are feeling overwhelmed.
Some years ago, PAWR helped me to rescue some cats for a dying friend, and I was very impressed with the physical changes to the shelter building when I dropped off my wine and beer bottles.
However, the inexperience and naiveté of the members, in conjunction with the abhorrent lack of funding from the municipality to staff the shelter, may be costing animals their lives
Under the OSPCA, I had both an owl and a racoon rescued from where I live in the country, but now that would not happen on dual levels, as there is no rescue of any animal now, and no help for wildlife.
Second, I see that once again the numbers of cats has multiplied. I belonged for 10 years to a committee of the municipality, set up by the municipality in response to many concerns about feline numbers, called CK CAT, CK Cat Assistance Team. We spent two years defining our mandate, then applied for and received a $15,000 grant from Petsmart, $5,0000 from community funding and another $5,000 from the municipality to perform TNVR (Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return) work across Chatham-Kent.
We formed our policies and procedures, and under the experienced work of some of our members, were able to trap over 350 cats in the years we were operating. Tragically, two years ago, administrators made the decision that the manager who was in charge of the group was spending 10 per cent of her time on the organization, and we were summarily disbanded. Since then we have struggled to continue on, as there were still many colonies on our list waiting to for TNVR. Those colonies have, no doubt, multiplied by leaps and bounds, as work that is not part of the mandate for PAWR.
In the meantime, a group of compassionate people, including Art Stirling, (who was, by the way, the councillor assigned to CK CAT), struggles to raise the funds necessary to build a new shelter that will actually be able to meet the needs of the abused and abandoned animals in this area.
It is a mark of shame that those in power here have abrogated their responsibilities in so many areas, notably the arts and the environment, but no more so than in the area of animal support. They have dragged their heels for years on replacing the disgrace that is the so-called shelter now, and continue to pay lip support to the fundraising efforts for a new one.
To add to this disgraceful situation, it now seems that there is no support for PAWR in the area of staffing, hence no rescues.
I myself have rescued dozens of cats who have been tossed off where I live in the country, spaying/neutering, vaccinating and testing and paying for it myself, as have many other people I know, but not everyone can afford to do this, so the disbanding CK CAT, and the lack of staffing at the shelter, have created a shameful and tragic situation for our animals, and often the people who love them.
Those of us who live in Chatham-Kent have become resigned to incomprehensible decisions, or lack of decisions thereof, from our senior administrators, but when, oh when, is municipal administration going to finally step up and assume its responsibilities in this regard for all of us?
Shame on them all!