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Pets Left Out in the Cold

An overflowing wait-list has Branford animal shelter director concerned.

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.

susan Barnes January 27, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Furthermore, the cat you adopt for whatever fee may have cost BCC hundreds of dollars for daily upkeep, vet care, meds, etc. If people were responsible with their pets the problem would diminish. But, sadly,they are not. ALL landlords should require that any dog or cat belonging to a tenant be spayed or neutered BEFORE renting to that tenant. AND they should see that animal waving good bye from the window of the departing tenant's car. The point made that if you cannot afford a pet do not get one is a good one. Animals are an expense and frequently a 10 to 20 year commitment. If you're not up to it, do not do it.
SolarPete January 27, 2012 at 09:54 PM
I think anyone who leaves their pets behind is heartless How would u feel if someone made u live outside in the cold I look on both sides and before folks just drop them off somewhere they need to see if they would enjoy being treated like that
susan Barnes January 27, 2012 at 10:06 PM
RB - As with most things in life money IS the object. When you have an organization with NO public funding, run by everyday people who simply love animals ( most of whom have many of their own AND fosters in their homes) and the organization is spending $150K or more a year on the care of these animals the money has to come from somewhere. One place is adoption fees. Thank you so much for doing for one cat what BCC does for hundreds every year. Please plan on attending the pasta dinner to benefit the Branford Compassion Club at 6:00PM on March 10 at ST Therese Church Hall on Leetes Island Rd. Bring all your family and friends. Call me for advance tickets.
SolarPete January 28, 2012 at 03:41 AM
sounds like money is the evil maybe someone on the high school can help by doing things or setting up help from fellow students Maybe the town needs to help fund this being they help other humans things now it's time to help out 4 legged compainions
Candice February 03, 2012 at 05:45 PM
I adopted a dog from Cosgrove for my mother. I feel the $150 was a bargain. She came with all her shots. They paid for her to be spayed/treated for mange and kennel cough. She received house and leash training. A pet store dog would have costed my family many hundreds of dollars more. Also, my family is opposed to adding to retail demand when so many animals are already in need of adoption. We could have gotten a dog for much less at a pound, but we would have assumed many more healthcare bills. Also, low adoption fees can contribute to dogs being returned to shelters by impulse buyers. They also leash/house trained our dog and worked with her to overcome some anxiety issues/ socialization challenges. They took this dog from a New Britain pound because she was going to be euthanized. This action (taken at their expense) saved a wonderful dog. As a no kill shelter, there are dogs that have been there for years. I take great pride in having contributed to this mission. I also adopted a kitten from Branford Compassion Club a few years ago that turned out to be in need of a very expensive operation (> $1000) because of a genetic eye issue. When they say they are committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure the best for their animals they are not kidding. When I called to find out if I could get the cat's medical history before the surgery, I was told they would have their vet perform the surgery at their cost. Today he is a beautiful, sweet cat. These groups are great.

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