In Early January, a that she had found a male tabby cat out in the cold and was seeking someone to foster the pet. Because of allergies, she was unable to take the cat in.
Though the exact story about this tabby is unknown, Laura Selvaggio Burban, Director of the , which serves Branford, North Branford and Northford, said many stray cats are a result of owners setting them free when they are no longer able to care for their pets.
Though she’d love to take every animal into the shelter, stray cats are not usually accepted as per state statue. The state says stray cats have the right to roam, commented Burban. Additionally, Burban said taking cats in without knowledge of medical background means they must be quarantined incase of having disease or feline AIDS. The shelter only has three quarantine cages, making it difficult for untested cats to come to the shelter. However, if any cat is injured the shelter will rescue the animal and conduct testing.
Currently, the shelter has 53 cats waiting for a spot in the facility – this includes 40 cats that one person has been hoarding. The over-crowding of cats is the same at the in North Branford who is full to capacity and unable to accept any more cats at this time. The reason for the increase in both cats and dogs needing homes, said Burban, is largely to blame on the economy.
Back when she first took the job as director of the shelter, Burban said the facility would get three to five calls a day from owners looking to release their cats – now she and her staff field 10 to 15 calls a day.
“It’s been a tough year,” said Burban of the shelter’s consistent flow of pets. The 19 dogs cages are almost always full – about double from when she first began three years ago, said Burban. The fact that the shelter is a no-kill also makes them a coveted facility for those looking to part with their pets.
About once every two weeks, Burban said someone will just dump a cat or dog at the shelter – occasionally leaving food or treats with the pet. Most recently, Rickey, a male Egyptian mau ocicat was tossed over a six-foot fence in a carrier. The cat was found by the dogs in the outdoor pen. He has tested positive for feline AIDS and now stays quarantined at the shelter awaiting adoption (to adopt call 203-315-4125).
Late last winter, Ferdinand, an eight-year-old rottweiler in North Branford. He was then hit by a car. Nearly one year later, Ferdinand is still waiting to be adopted.
So why do people just purge their pets? Burban said care is expensive and the economy has been tough. Many pets, she said, come from cases of evictions where owners have to get rid of pets due to living situation. The owners, oftentimes, she said, are devastated by having to give up their animals. Planning, she said, is one thing she hopes people will start to do more of.
“There is always a solution,” she said. “I just feel abandoning the animal or dumping the animal is not the solution.”
Right now, to owner-release a pet to the shelter, people must pay $50 and have the animal up to date on shots and tested. The average wait for a person looking to release a cat is about 8 to 12 weeks given all the criteria is met. Pet owners in Branford, North Branford and Northford will also be served before people looking to release pets to the shelter from outside towns.
“The animals don’t get to speak,” commented Burban. When you are going through hardships, Burban said, pet owners need to keep their helpless friends’ best interests in mind. “Take the time to prepare for your animals as you would yourself,” she said.