Rescue groups: Cornwall cat law a ‘mess’, TNR the solution

A kitten from Tiny But Mighty Kitten Rescue peeks out of a basket outside the Cornwall city council chambers on Monday, May 14, 2018. Rescue groups say the proposed cat control bylaw is a mess and the city needs to reinstate the trap and return program, originally started in 2008 by the OSPCA. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

Editor’s note: A sentence in this story has been clarified from an earlier version. A quote referred to the OSPCA letting the TNR program go. In fact, it was the City of Cornwall that dropped the ball, Proulx says. The OSPCA had run the TNR program but it didn’t continue after 2008-2009.

CORNWALL – Two cat rescue groups call Cornwall’s proposed cat control bylaw “a mess” and the solution to the cat problem is reinstating a 2008 OSPCA program.

“It’s (the bylaw) not going to work,” said Mary Jane Proulx of Roy and Cher’s Rescue Farm, outside the council chambers Monday night, shortly after council discussed the proposed law.

“Trap and return (TNR), we have to get that back,” Proulx said, referring to the OSPCA’s 2008 program which was funded entirely by the society. “That’s why we’re in this problem right now is because they haven’t been doing it for years.”

The OSPCA program, which was in partnership with local vets and service providers, cost $60,000 in 2008. But the program didn’t continue. The wild cats would be trapped, sterilized, and then returned to the place where they were caught.

Proulx says neighbours are “fighting with each other” over the cat problem. “I have one woman from Nelson Street saying that she’s getting out of Cornwall because of the situation.”

She says another woman on Adolphus Street – originally from Montreal – told her she would never have moved here if she knew about the cat problem.

Proulx added that the TNR method also controls births.

“I trapped five cats on Adolphus. Good. But two mothers come in two weeks ago and eight kittens. Bang! So I’m back to square one…we’re screwed.”

The rescue farm, which relies on donations, takes the cats to St. Zotique, Que. where the cost of spaying and neutering is cheaper than local options. The rescue group is dealing with 70 per cent of the feral cats in Cornwall, she said.

“It’s more affordable that here, yeah,” said Mellissa Alepins with Tiny But Mighty Kitten Rescue, with a kitten in tow.

Proulx says the solution is simple. “TNR, all the way. Don’t let it go. Keep it up. We can afford it, for sure we can afford it. Because they (City of Cornwall) let it go in 2009. That’s why today we are where we are.”

A city report contradicts the rescue groups saying the TNR program was “not sustainable long-term” and did not have the “desired outcome.”

Both woman were disappointed they didn’t get to address city councillors. The forum did not allow for public comments during the meeting.