One of the major issues the Last Chance Cat Ranch in Lethbridge faces is pet abandonment.
“People who come north to work, when they return south, they leave animals behind,” Elizabeth Ginn of the Last Chance Cat Ranch said. “However, it’s not just them. There’s also a fraction of people that just abandon them.”
Ginn says that the Last Chance Cat Ranch implores pet owners to take care of their pets, but people don’t always listen and expect the facility to be of help to them when something goes wrong.
“They expect us to take over and solve their problems for them,” Ginn said.
“We’ve helped a few people with neutering and spaying their cats in Taber. And nobody ever says thank you. Nobody ever pays us back. It’s just a never-ending vicious circle in Taber. We get more calls, more social media posts, and messages to take cats from Taber.
“There are a couple of people in Taber, well maybe two or three, who really care, who are helping cats on their own, but they can’t be expected to keep paying all the vet bills for them out of their own pockets all the time.”
The Town, Ginn said, used to have $15,000 allocated to veterinary and feral cat programs, but that funding was discontinued in 2021.
“A lot of cats are suffering up there,” Ginn said.
“Taber is at the top of the list, actually. They’re competing with Coaldale and Picture Butte and Raymond for the worst communities in southern Alberta outside of Lethbridge.
“That is because Lethbridge is really bad. Lethbridge has thousands of homeless cats around the city in various areas. And the City doesn’t care.
“They don’t do anything about it. And we have to keep, you know, doing what we can when we have the resources to do it.”
Ginn says that the Last Chance Cat Ranch will have been in operation for 20 years come September and the cycle of them trying to help suffering animals is quite vicious, as it is never ending.
“It’s not just southern Alberta,” Ginn said. “There has to be some improvement, but until more people start lobbying their own municipalities, it’s not going to change. And animals are going to continue to suffer.”
Ginn says that R.J. Bailot, executive director of the Canadian Animal Task Force is making a trip to Taber in the future to run a trap, neuter, return clinic for cats and that the town is funding.
“The community needs to rally together to get more support, to help diminish suffering and abuse and neglect of cats,” Ginn said.
“Not just in Taber, but all over southern Alberta, all over Alberta. Actually, it’s everywhere.”