Animal shelters stretched to limit

Contractors, plant hire and suppliers have all pledged support for the Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary in St Annes
Contractors, plant hire and suppliers have all pledged support for the Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary in St Annes
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HUNDREDS of cats face being abandoned on the streets of the Fylde coast as animal shelters are running out of room.

Blackpool-based Furry Tails Feline Welfare, Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary, Cat Rescue in St Annes and Cats Paws in Marton have all issued a stark warning over the situation.

John Rose, owner of Furry Tails, said the crisis is the worst he has seen and has put it down to owners not getting cats neutered.

The sanctuary has neutered 3,000 cats over the last three years but they are now at a stage where they are having to turn animals.

Mr Rose said: “The situation at the moment is we are inundated with cats.

“I’ve sent letters to MPs and councillors but it’s just manic and we have no room.

“It’s getting to a stage where we are really struggling.

“Easterleigh has had a fire down there and they are only taking in cats which are vaccinated.”

Christine Ashton, trustee of Cat Rescue in St Annes, says owners not taking responsibility for their cats is only one part of the growing problem.

She said: “I don’t like answering the phone anymore because I would say nine out of ten calls are people in severe distress.

“People are losing their homes and moving away be cause of the recession and they can’t take their animals with them.

“We are all having to say no because there is only so much we can do.”

The situation has been compounded by the fire which struck Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary in March.

Andy Richards, animal care assistant at Easterleigh, said: “There are only a few of us in the area and we’re often working at absolute capacity a lot of the time.

“With us not being able to take any cats in it has certainly put a lot of pressure on the others.”

Mr Richards highlighted the importance of educating owners about neutering to avoid a repeat of the situation in the future.

He added: “You can get neutering done for free and we need to get that across because there are so many benefits of getting it done.”

Bobbie Hargreaves, manager of Cats Paws Sanctuary, added: “Once a cat has been exposed to mating, fighting or biting by another cat there is every possibility one of several life-threatening diseases could have been picked up.

“We get dozens of inquiries every week from people wanting us to take in cats for various reasons, we do our best but we get abuse from some people when we cannot help immediately.

“We are accused of not wanting to help, when the truth is that we simply cannot help due to lack of space.”

Blackpool Council’s Coun Ian Fowler was contacted by Mr Rose to try to raise more awareness and he agreed educating owners was key to solving the problem.

He said: “I am a dog and cat lover and it’s a shame people need to dump these cats. The events at Easterleigh will only exacerbate the situation.”