Langley Kinsmen made a donation of $26,460 to a local animal shelter in an effort to save homeless cats and kittens in their community.
The money was given to CARES (Canadian Animal Rescue and Extended Shelter) and will be used to fund a new spay and neuter program in Langley, announced CARES president Carol Briner.
"This donation will enable us to implement a much needed TNR (trap-neuter/spay-return) program in the Langley area," she elaborated.
In the spirit of the Kinsmen's motto of 'serving the community's greatest needs," this is the first donation the Langley Kinsmen have made to an animal rescue group.
And in honour of the "significant" donation, CARES will be adding the Langley Kinsmen name to the new program.
It is estimated - based on the almost 130,000 people living in the Township and City of Langley - that there are at least 6,000 stray, abandoned, and feral cats in the community. And the problem is getting worse, Briner said.
"CARES has identified several areas in Langley, specifically in abandoned buildings and farms, where unaltered stray, abandoned, and feral cats live and breed under terrible conditions," she explained.
TNR is a method of humanely trapping cats, having them spayed or neutered, vaccinating them, then returning them to their colony to live out their lives. It also involves a caretaker who provides food and adequate shelter and monitors the cats' health.
Any tame and adoptable cats and kittens that are trapped will go through CARES' normal adoption program, Briner added.
"TNR has been shown to be the least costly, as well as the most efficient and humane way of stabilizing feral and community cat populations," she said.
"We are very pleased to sponsor CARES effort to establish a cat TNR program in Langley," said Kinsmen president Scot Jackson.
"Similar programs have worked well in other communities to humanely control cat population. We hope that our donation will enable future sponsorship opportunities to sustain the much needed TNR program," he added.
Stray, abandoned, and feral cats are a community-generated problem, and it is the community that needs to take the responsibility for what ultimately ends up happening to these animals, CARES said.
Spaying and neutering is the most important thing that can be done to curb the cat overpopulation.
"CARES and other shelters in our community are struggling daily with calls from the public about abandoned, stray, and feral cats and kittens. Many of them live in horrible conditions and are starving and sick. With this generous donation from the Langley Kinsmen for the Langley Kinsmen Cat TNR Program, we will now be able to help those animals and ensure they live the rest of their lives with shelter and food," Briner said.
CARES, a no-kill cat shelter, houses about 90 adult cats at the shelter, in addition to 6080 kittens in various foster homes.
Thanks to a team of about 80 "hardworking and caring" volunteers, they are able to adopt out more than 400 cats a year through the shelter and PetSmart on the Langley Bypass. But it's still not enough.
"Animal owners must take responsibility for the pets in their care, by getting them spayed or neutered," Briner said, noting CARES does not adopt a cat that's not fixed.