Grand Forks cat shelter needs new home, fast

Helping Hands’ successes bring their share of challenges, says shelter president

The Boundary’s only cat shelter is looking for new digs, having taken in twice as many felines in the year to date compared to this point last year, according to president Kimberly Feeny.

There were nearly 30 cats at the Boundary Helping Hands Feline Rescue Society’s (Helping Hands’) Johnson Flats headquarters when the society held its first annual general meeting Sunday, March 13. A total of 47 had come since Jan. 1, with 32 going on to fur-ever homes.

Helping Hands’ president Kim Feeny smiles at ‘Mayonnaise.’ The cuddly orange and white cat was adopted to a loving family last spring. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

Helping Hands’ president Kim Feeny smiles at ‘Mayonnaise.’ The cuddly orange and white cat was adopted to a loving family last spring. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

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But Feeny, who founded Helping Hands in December 2020, said the shelter has had as many recent challenges as successes.

Its Johnson Flats location isn’t big enough to handle the steady stream of lost, abandoned and feral cats and kittens that have swamped Helping Hands’ small core of exasperated volunteers. If anything, its stellar reputation and increasingly public profile have heightened the urgency, Feeny said.

Cramped quarters have led to outbreaks of feline sicknesses at the shelter, where heating is so poor that water pipes froze during a winter cold snap.

Fundraisers added around $33,000 to the shelter’s total revenue of just over $87,000. Roughly two-thirds of that money went to spaying and neutering shelter cats and to the animals’ other medical bills, according to Helping Hands’ financials for 2021.

Jackie Austinson bottle-feeds little “Mocha” during kitty hour at Phoenix Manor Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

Jackie Austinson bottle-feeds little “Mocha” during kitty hour at Phoenix Manor Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

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Feeny said the shelter might not hit last year’s numbers in 2022. The shelter doesn’t have space to house garage sale items after the sale of a volunteer’s home which had doubled as the shelter’s storage depot, she explained.

Helping Hands has long been in talks with the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) in the hopes of securing a new, permanent shelter. The RDKB’s animal control building on Donaldson Drive would be ideal, Feeny said, but the building is currently occupied.

City councilor Neil Krog, who lined up Helping Hands’ former location in North Ruckle, continues to look for potential facilities in Grand Forks, Feeny said.

Krog was at Sunday’s AGM, along with Mayor Brian Taylor and Danna O’Donnell, RDKB Director for rural Grand Forks’ Area D.

Helping Hands rescued 295 cats and kittens in 2021, roughly half of which came from Grand Forks. A quarter of rescues (73) came from the West Boundary, many from feral cat colonies in Midway and Greenwood. The shelter meanwhile helped 80 low-income families spay and neuter their cats, members heard Sunday.

The shelter is looking for volunteers and foster families. For information about how to adopt a cat or kitten or to make a donation, visit Helping Hands’ website at boundaryfelinerescuesociety.org.


 

@ltritsch1
laurie.tritschler@grandforksgazette.ca

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laurie.tritschler@boundarycreektimes.com

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