GANDER, NL – A pair of eyes stare intently out the window, curious about what is going outside.
The cat loses attention gradually, settles to curl its head around its body on the window sill, purrs softly and closes its eyes.
Many more felines are held in SPCA Gander. A few have the privilege of roaming outside the two rooms where they are kept.
Judy Collins, a volunteer for 10 years, says there are close to 40 cats waiting to be adopted.
‘We do not know why there are so many abandoned.”
Collins remembers growing up with rescued animals from a young age. She recently added a young kitten to the two dogs and two cats in the family.
“I had to save his life – he was on the verge of dying. It was a super busy day at the SPCA and this little kitten was not getting any attention, so I started syringe feeding him and took him home,” Collins said.
Nicole Sande has volunteered with the SPCA since 2002. She recalls when she first started, she was not able to care for a dog because of college commitments.
But, Sande said, “I needed some animal love and began to take the dogs out for walks at the SPCA. That is how I started.”
As her commitments allowed her to care for a dog of her own, Sande adopted Maggie, a Labrador retriever. She said Maggie was “one of the worst abuse cases the shelter had at that point.”
She said Maggie was part of a backyard breeding operation with one male and five females.
“Maggie was six years old, not house trained, and was kept in the cage outdoors and not let out. It was a rough scene.”
In addition to caring for abandoned pets, there are other benefits to owning one.
Collins said she walks seven to 12 kilometres every day to keep her dog active. In addition, she said raising animals has taught her children responsibility.
Sande agrees with Collins, and adds that the unconditional love animals give is second to none.
“You can have the worst or best day of your life, and your dog or cat will be looking at you, and say ‘Oh, you’re home’ – it’s the best thing ever!”
Sande and Collins caution those who wish to take animals home to carefully consider the decision.
“Any pet brought into the house has to be a family decision – not a surprise for a child because the family takes care of the animal,” said Sande. “The problem is if an animal comes in as a birthday or Christmas gift and the animal becomes a burden (for one person), it ends up abandoned or at the shelter.”
Collins added, “If you are getting an animal, you have to realize they are yours for their whole life, or should be. Don’t get it if you are going to throw it out, or have it for a year.”