By Moira Blazi
The ladies at Kootenai Pets for life do not let moss, or anything else, grow under their feet. They are a very busy bunch, and they do it all for the animals.
In just the first three months of this year, KPLF has found loving responsible homes for 21 dogs and cats, giving Sparkle, Chewie, Griz, Eclipse and others a real chance for a happy life. During this same period, the shelter took in 14 animals, five dogs and nine cats, two of whom had four kittens each. The numbers sort of even out as it usually does at the KPFL shelter, at least now that most of our local domestic animal friends have been spayed and neutered.
Anyone who has perused a neon orange KPFL brochure or taken the time to read a flyer or article about the rate of domestic cat and dog reproduction, will already know what an important service KPFL performs for the community. They began their spay/neuter program in 2002, and as of Dec. 2017, spayed/neutered 7,927 animals. Jan. added 19 more, and in Feb. another 16 were added. These efforts have literally prevented millions of unwanted dogs and cats from suffering. “If someone wants an animal spayed/neutered, KPFL will do it, we will never turn anyone away,” said, KPFL treasurer, Judy Hyslep. “We received a grant from Lincoln county of approx. $3,800 this past year which will be used to help people who cannot afford to pay for the operations,” she added.
Started in 2001, KPFL is a no-kill shelter run entirely by volunteers, most of whom wear many hats. Duties range from grant writing to changing litter boxes. The organization provides foster care, veterinary assistance, and community education, and they have facilitated over 3,500 adoptions. They began microchipping animals in Feb. 2012, and as of Dec. 2017 693 animals have been chipped.
Every dog or cat who leaves the shelter for a new home is neutered and microchipped. Every potential home is checked out, and every animal who finds themselves in the shelter is treated with kindness and care.
KPFL took it one step further, when they started their feral/stray program in 2011. “Feral cats provide an immense service to people by taking out rats and mice,” Hyslep told the Montanian. Since 2011, 721 feral cats have been spayed/neutered. “When people can trap them and bring them in, we will spay or neuter them, clip their left ear, and release them back to property owners to live and work on their land. Most people know to look for the clipped left ear which indicates the cat has been spayed/neutered,” Hyslep told the Montanian.
Still in a rural areas such as ours, cats will sometimes mix with wild animals and otherwise get into trouble, and the KPFL shelter is very careful to keep any potentially infectious or dangerous cats isolated from the main population. Space is limited though, so in order to make this quarantine process more effective, the shelter’s board is looking to build a new cat intake area which will be separate from the main cat area.
“They will stay for at least five days in this temporary quarantine area,” said Beth Murray, KPFL board member and shelter volunteer since 2009. The addition will be built on the back of the existing building to the left of the feral cat enclosure. Funding is needed to get started, so a giant rummage sale will be held at Libby’s Ponderosa room this Friday and Saturday, April 20 and 21. Donations will also be accepted.
Although the spay/neuter program has been wildly successful, spring will always bring a few litters of young ones. Murray told the Montanian that she had just helped a cat give birth last Sunday. “We are looking for foster homes for some pregnant cats right now,” she said, “and of course we are always in great need of volunteers and fresh ideas.” For more information about the upcoming rummage sale contact 293-3435 or 293-6801. For more information about KPFL in general please call 293-5735 or visit their website at kootenaipetsforlife.com.