When a Vernon father and daughter were driving along Pleasant Valley Road they spotted a heart-stopping sight.
Tia asked her dad to pull over after she thought she saw something moving inside three cat carriers left on the side of the road.
When the two looked inside, there were three felines.
A note was left on one of the crates which read, “This one has a heart murmur. Please take care of my cats.”
The crate with the note contained a black and white female cat. The other two crates had a male tabby cat and a male long-haired white cat who was quite matted.
Tia and her dad packed up the three abandoned animals and went off the the Vernon BC SPCA, but as the shelter was closing down due to a number of ongoing structural integrity issues, the non-profit was unable to take in the cats.
Frantic to find a solution for the adult cats, they took them home and made a desperate call to the Okanagan Humane Society.
Romany Runnalls the volunteer president and board of director for Okanagan Humane Society (OHS), said it’s hard to say how long these helpless cats had been waiting to be saved, the crates were in bad shape, so it is believed it had been some time.
“This is something we are seeing more and more in our communities: animals being abandoned, left behind or dumped,” said Runnalls. “We don’t know if their former owner also tried to take them to the shelter that week.”
Long before the Vernon shelter closed its doors, she said animals in the North Okanagan were being redirected to OHS. OHS has no brick-and-mortar and relies on volunteers and fosters to help provide care and temporary homes for animals.
“The last two years have been particularly busy for us receiving many referrals across the Okanagan Valley from shelters that do not accept community animals in situations exactly like this where the poor animals being left behind or found stray,” explained Runnells.
The charity moved quickly to get all three of the cats to a local veterinary clinic in Vernon, a partner of OHS. After a thorough health check, it was confirmed all of the cats were either spayed or neutered, but needed to be vaccinated, dewormed, and received a microchip for ID. And, the matted long-haired white cat received much-needed grooming.
“While we may never know their story, we suspect that their abandonment was a result of a possible eviction or moving and not being able to find housing for their family (including their animals), or some other crisis. Sadly, this is becoming more and more common across the valley, with an inflationary economy and desperate housing shortage,” said Runnalls.
The cats have been named Alex, Minnie, and Scramble. All three are friendly, well-behaved, very affectionate and will be up for adoption through the Okanagan Humane Society through their foster home in Kelowna.
“We will continue to answer as many calls as we can, however, we can only do this with funding. OHS does not receive operational funding from the government or municipalities to date. We rely solely on the generosity of community donors, foundations and granting agencies to continue to save animals like Alex, Minnie, and Scramble,” she said.
According to Runnalls, it’s only been five days since the shelter closure in Vernon, and already more calls and animals are coming to OHS, than before.
“There is a huge service gap in the north Okanagan for other rescues like OHS to fill.”
The volunteer-run, foster-based organization is trending to help even more animals in 2023 than in 2022 and last year had already been a record year for the organization saving more than 1,500 pets with an average cost per animal approaching $400.
Right now, OHS is running their annual Angels for Animals giving campaign where all donations will be matched up to $25,000.
To donate and help recover veterinary care costs for this trio and save many more animals in need go to https://okanaganhumanesociety.com/donate.