Caring for strays
By Jenn Watt
Published Jan. 9, 2018
When fire destroyed The Great Haliburton Feed Company on a frigid evening in November of 2014, the community stepped up. Support for the store and the owners, Maureen Adams and Charles McAleaney, flooded in.
Three years later, they have decided to close up shop.
Their departure will surely cause sadness among many in Haliburton who have come to enjoy shopping in the store.
But beyond the loss of a local retailer, there is also the loss of a crucial service.
Over their 23 years in business, Adams and McAleaney have sheltered thousands of unwanted pets. Litters of mewling kittens, bouncing bunnies, even dogs and birds have been taken care of by the pair. For those living in the village and surrounding area, the feed company has been the place to go to find a new furry friend.
And for those panicking after the neighbourhood cat chose their shed as her maternity ward, there was a place to drop off the animals that was warm and safe.
Many times I would stop in to the feed company to pick up some litter or a cat toy and find the owners shaking their heads at another box of kittens found at their doorstep. Usually full to the brim with cats, they would find another cage, fill another bowl of chow and make sure the pets were cared for.
If the feed company closes (and McAleaney and Adams are pretty convincing when they say it will), that service they’ve been providing all these years goes too.
This is a real dilemma for the town.
As described the Echo this week, other pet shops and animal advocates either don’t take stray cats or don’t have any space. In Minden, they’re already dealing with an abundance of cats, so much so that Don Kerr of Minden Cat Angels is intending to discuss a low-cost spay and neuter program with Minden Hills council.
Without a safe place to drop pets off in Haliburton, what will people do?
The closest SPCA is Bracebridge. Will someone with an unwanted litter of cats be willing to drive them an hour away?
And then there are the people who adopt pets with good intentions only to become overwhelmed and unable to continue caring for them. Where will they take their pets?
Luckily, Facebook has filled some of the void in connecting animal lovers to pets in need of a home, but that doesn’t account for the people who don’t want to keep a cat in their house while they wait for responses.
Like it or not, some people just want to leave the pet somewhere and if there’s no feed company or similar location, where will they go?
Haliburton Village has managed to avoid Minden’s chronic problem of stray downtown cats. If the feed company does close, we may find ourselves in a similar situation.