LETHBRIDGE – Volunteers at Last Chance Cat Ranch woke up to find that the rescue company was destroyed overnight when someone severed a wire fence on the outside pens, allowing some of the cats to escape.
“It’s always a worry that someone comes in and something shameful,” said volunteer Laurie Olmsted, who came to round up the missing animals.
The incident was captured by surveillance cameras installed on the property. The video shows two people approaching the front door. One of them, a woman, then goes into the back yard, where she crouches next to the Catio, a fenced-in enclosure that is attached to the garage.
Cats housed in the garage can enter the Catio through a small pet door.
When volunteers arrived on site, they found that an opening had been cut in the wire fence and several cats were missing.
“It breaks my heart,” said rescue worker Michelle Hansen.
“I’m breaking down thinking we might have cats that we might not get back. It is terrible and cruel that someone should do such a thing. “
Last Chance Cat Ranch is a nonprofit rescue organization that has been operating since 2003.
Your mission is to save homeless cats and kittens and find homes for stray or abandoned cats.
Founder Elizabeth Ginn said there were 14 cats in the garage and catio, including a couple that was just adopted. The area is also used to house some of the elderly shelter cats with disabilities or health problems.
“The Catio is the place where you can get some fresh air, enjoy the sun and listen to the birds,” said Ginn.
“Until then, it’s a very safe environment for them.”
Not all cats have left the shelter.
Hansen said several stayed in the garage or stayed nearby.
“They know my voice so I called them and we had a little guy who came back,” she said.
Volunteers spent the morning searching the neighborhood and setting up some food-baited traps to lure them back into the yard.
Three of the cats were still missing on Tuesday afternoon.
Olmsted said two of the animals came from a homeless situation, were quite shy and could be difficult to catch.
“Everyone cares,” she said. “We invest a lot of time and love in these animals and letting them go like that is difficult.”
Ginn says the rescue company is looking at ways to make their property safer, including stronger fences or the possibility that they might have to hire security overnight.
However, she said these options would represent an additional cost to a nonprofit that relies on public donations to cover operating costs.
Volunteers have contacted the police and said they will hand over the surveillance video to help with the investigation.