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Guest Post: Animal Welfare

When asked if I’d be willing to write an article for the upcoming newsletter of the Okanagan Humane Society, I thought it would be appropriate to bring up the Canadian Veterinary Medical Associations latest proposed position statement on Animal Welfare. Although the following may not be the final version of their statement, it seems to have been met with approval from veterinarians all over the country during a recent opinion poll by the Association.
“Free Roaming, Abandoned, and Feral Cats” Position:

“The CVMA encourages and supports initiatives to address the problems associated with free-roaming, abandoned and feral cats in order to both improve the welfare of the cats themselves and to address public health risks. The CVMA recognizes that well-managed trap, neuter, and return (TNR) programmes are an important strategy in the management of feral and abandoned free-roaming cats. Managed cat colonies should not be established in ecologically sensitive wildlife areas.”

I have been involved with the Okanagan Humane Society for many years as a veterinarian and practice owner, performing spaying and neutering services for the Society and, more recently, as a veterinary advisory member on their board of directors. Although their mandate is more broad than only dealing with free-roaming, abandoned, and feral cats, a good portion of their resources is dedicated to dealing with this issue. I have been amazed by the gritty determination and perseverance of the volunteers involved.

These are people who deserve a medal. They dedicate large portions of their own financial resources, their time, and even their homes to help stem the tide of the overwhelming numbers of unwanted and abandoned cats and kittens that live in the various colonies scattered throughout the Okanagan Valley. Hours, days, weeks and months are spent trapping such animals (a HUGE task by itself); feeding and caring for them before and after having them spayed and neutered; traveling back and forth to vet hospitals to deliver and pick up these animals; finding willing volunteers; promoting and educating; administration; fund-raising, and the list goes on. All this work is done on a volunteer basis!

Although the SPCA does, of course, do their share of finding homes for unwanted pets, they aren’t able to devote the kind of time that the Okanagan Humane Society has been putting in to dealing with abandoned cat colonies. This is a huge issue as there are many cats suffering under such conditions of malnutrition and disease. Not only that, but when allowed to continue unabated, such colonies have adverse effects on native ecosystems as well as public health, as indicated in the Veterinary Association Position Statement.

So, as an established professional with many years of experience living in the Okanagan and dealing with cats from these situations, I would love to see recognition from local government that the OHS fulfills a role currently NOT filled by the SPCA and thereby highly deserving of financial support! I would be happy to entertain questions on this issue by interested parties.


Michael Lavroff D.V.M.

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