THUNDER BAY –- A laundry basket of kittens abandoned on the side of road was found just minutes away from an animal shelter.
“It’s quite shocking we found them on the roadside,” said Melanie Blanchette, executive director of the Thunder Bay and District Humane Society of the six kittens.
Late Friday afternoon a man arrived at the Humane Society’s Rosslyn Road headquarters with six kittens in a laundry basket, looking to drop them off after he claimed he found the basket within city limits.
Staff at the humane society told him the two-week-old kittens would have to be taken to the city’s animal services department, which has jurisdiction based on where the cats were said to have originally been found.
The man left after being given directions to the city’s shelter.
About 30 minutes later a Humane Society staff member left to head east on Rosslyn Road toward town and found a basket with kittens on the side of the road.
The city’s shelter takes animals found from within the city’s limits, while the Humane Society covers not only the surrounding rural areas but the entire district.
Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals agent Jeremy Gardiner said the case could result in charges of causing distress to an animal, which could carry maximum penalties of a $60,000 fine and up to two years in jail.
“I think what’s shocking is he was provided with the means to (take them to animal services),” Gardiner said, assuming the man who attempted to drop off the kittens is the same person responsible for leaving them at the side of the road.
“He was provided with a map of how to get there and with the age of the animals, with the heat, they would have perished for sure. Plus you have predatory animals around.”
The age of the kittens is particularly distressing.
They are so young they lack the means to be able to survive on their own, requiring constant care 24 hours a day.
The kittens have been taken in by a Humane Society staff member, who is caring for them at her home.
So far it’s a positive turn to a story that could have ended horribly.
“They would have definitely died,” Blanchette said. “These are very young kittens that need to be bottle fed every couple of hours. They need a mother and extra attention.”
While it is unknown where the kittens originally came from, Blanchette believes the costs to spay and neuter animals is the primary cause of the high number of cats and dogs taken in by the Humane Society and animal services.
There are no low cost alternatives for the authorities to use to try to control stray and feral populations.
“That is the number one problem because people can’t afford to spay and neuter their pets. A lot of the time we’ll find cats that were abandoned because they’re pregnant,” she said.
“Simply there are not enough homes for these animals.”
The Humane Society is asking for the man, who they say appeared to be in his late teens or early 20s, to come forward.
Blanchette said it would be at least another six weeks until the kittens could be adopted.