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Cat shelters seek new homes

For the Love of Paws and In Memory of Shadow Rescue groups are looking for new homes for their cats and themselves.

PORT AUX BASQUES – Two rescue groups, In Memory of Shadow Rescue and For the Love of Paws, are in a struggle with Port-aux-Basques Town Council when it comes to requesting an area for new shelters.

In Memory of Shadow Rescue was established on February 26 , 2016. In February of 2019, when the trailer that they were using became dilapidated, council gave the group a temporary location in the building known as the former fish plant. The Town has since sent a notice that they need their space back for future business plans and the group has to be vacated from the building by Oct. 31.

For the Love of Paws Rescue started operating in March, founded by a group of prior rescuers. Currently this group relies on foster families for their animals and a large number of the cats are being housed in Loretta and Eugene Battiste’s house in MacDougall’s Gulch, where there are no restrictions on how many animals they are allowed to have.

Both groups feel that they are very much needed in Port aux Basques.

Velda Tapp-Pretty, spokesperson for Shadow Rescue stated, “To date we have an intake sheet of almost 400 cats. Some are not on the list but we’re working to have every animal counted so it will be close to 500. We have roughly 40 adults needing homes.”

Peggy Savery, a director with For the Love of Paws said, “Since March we have adopted out almost 25 kittens/cats and rescued up to 50-60. Considering at this point we do not have a building this is very good but we would be able to do much more if we had a shelter. Our main focus is the Port aux Basques area. There are still lots of needs locally that are not being met. We deal mostly with cats, but no animal would be denied support.”

In Memory of Shadow Rescue has brought animals in from Rose Blanche to South Branch. Both groups also work with SPCAs in different locations and they are able to transfer animals to other provinces in Canada.

Both groups rely heavily on fundraising to care for their animals.

When asking for land in the town, both groups developed a plan. The In Memory of Shadow Rescue group would like to to build a small shelter and add to it a TNR (trap/neuter/release) barn.

Tapp-Pretty explained, “Not all animals we bring in are easily rehabilitated so they will have access to the barn style shelter designed to be vertical like a tower with a feeding station inside”.

The For the Love of Paws group is very fortunate in that they have a financial supporter who is willing to purchase a place for their shelter.

Savery states, “We just need a place to rebuild or even just a piece of land.”

The Town Council understand how important these groups are, but according to Town Manager Leon MacIsaac, the current regulations lack areas in its municipal zoning where shelters could be erected. The Town currently has one Land Use Zone, Rural, which includes “Animal” (animal pounds, kennels, etc) as a Discretionary Use zone. There are also a number of Rural Land Use Zones throughout the Town. However, municipal services are not readily available at these locations as they were not intended to be currently serviced for development.

MacIssac clarified there is the possibility for the groups to request an amendment to the municipality regulations but this can be costly and timely.

“The process to make an amendment to the Municipal Plan and Development Regulations can be a bit lengthy, depending on the application, and can cost approximately $4,000 – $5,000 to complete. The application is made through the services of a Professional Planner who would create the text for the amendment and/or required plans for submission. The Town is required to have a Public Hearing, a Public Meeting and advertise all material associated with the application. Unfortunately, it is not a simple matter of making a request and changing the regulations to permit a specific use.”

Presently both groups are still hoping that something can be arranged with the town. They know that there are a number of buildings in the town which may be taken over by Council.

Tapp-Pretty responded to the municipal guidelines by saying, “There are very few rescues who give second chances to an adult cat so that leaves us in a bad place right now. All shelters are full in Newfoundland because of the huge cat population.“

Savery is hoping that the lines of communication will stay open.

“We will continue to try to get their support. We just need the town to see us as a benefit to our community and support our organization.”

It does seem that at least a few residents who are open to having a shelter in their neighbourhood.

Says Felicia Walters, “I would be thrilled to have a cat shelter in my neighbourhood. It’s much needed in this area. I’m an animal lover and having a building close would entice me to stop in often to lend a helping hand or spend time helping rehabilitate cats who need human interaction to prepare them for adoption.”

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