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N.S. animal rescue sees more pet surrenders amid housing crunch

By Skye Bryden-Blom Aug 5, 2022 | 11:16 AM

(SOURCE: Pexels)

The high costs of living are forcing some owners to give up their pets in Nova Scotia.

The director of South Paw Conservation Nova Scotia tells our newsroom it has been a tough time for many who call on the animal rescue for help.

Terri-Lyn Rhyno says she’s seen an increase in pet surrenders as more people struggle to find affordable places to call home.

“Most of the cats we’ve come across have been people with housing issues,” Rhyno explains. “I had a lady last week with two cats. Her apartment had flooded and she had to move out because of it. She had no place to live. There was no affordable living for her. Unfortunately, that’s what we’ve been dealing with.”

Rhyno adds many who call on her rescue have been citing “housing issues” as the main reason for reaching out since last summer.

She adds it doesn’t help that vet costs are also on the rise.

Rhyno estimates you’ll pay close to $100 for an appointment fee just to walk through the front doors of a clinic. Blood tests alone cost between $300 to $500.

She reminds Nova Scotians all rescues are here to help.

“There’s no judgement, there’s never judgement, and there shouldn’t be,” Rhyno tells us.

Rescues work closely with vets so they can help you get your pets the care they need. Most rescues will spay or neuter cats for free.

Other tips include seeking vet care in rural communities where it’s often cheaper and also setting up a GoFundMe to help cover costs.

Rhyno cautions vets known for offering more affordable services are often very busy. She points to Dr. Bail in Upper Tantallon who is almost 90 years old and continues to help many Nova Scotians and their furry friends.

Pandemic heightens Nova Scotia’s feral cat problem

Southpaw Conservation is also focused on helping local ferals.

“Initially South Paw started out with feral cats, taming and homing them,” Rhyno explains. “In a perfect world, we would tame them and put them into homes where they’re safe from wild animals and disease. Obviously, that’s not always going to be the case. In the southern part of the province, like Yarmouth and Liverpool, and the northern part, the valley, they have huge issues with feral cats.”

She says small rescues are often made up of volunteers. She says it’s women in their mid to late 60s and 70s who are crawling into houses and trapping cats. They’re determined to help get the feral population under control.

“It’s amazing what they do to help,” Rhyno says.

However, it appears Nova Scotia’s feral cat problem has been heightened by the pandemic, which made it hard for rescues to get stray cats into clinics for spays and neuters.

“It’s a huge issue. I think COVID probably played a big part in that. You know a lot of vets, in the beginning, didn’t do any spay and neuter and that really hurt small rescues like ours,” Rhyno says. “We take feral cats on but we need to get them right to a vet. It’s really hard when you get a cat that you can’t handle and then you have to put it in a space. It’s really hard to get the cat back in a crate to take it to a vet.”

Rhyno adds it’s kitten season and there appears to be more around this year following those pandemic delays.

A tip to help bring down the number of cats roaming our streets is to adopt from a rescue where animals are already neutered and spayed. It will also help offset costs for about a year until your pet’s annual check-up.

Rhyno says usually a pet owner’s heart is in the right place when they give kittens away for free, but those cats could end up getting pregnant if not vetted before going to their new homes.

“I think the focus needs to be on spay and neuter. A lot of people have a hard time with this,” Rhyno says. “When you give your cat away for free maybe that person cannot afford to vet the cat. If your cat has kittens and then you just give the kittens away, some people don’t always have the funds to vet them.”

Rhyno reminds Nova Scotians that rescues are here to help regardless of the issue. She just wants us to be kind and to have patience for volunteers who work tirelessly to keep animals healthy and safe.

If you want to give back, the rescue is in need of food and litter and is accepting donations to its food bank.


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