by Kathy Johnson
If there’s one message that Minnie Atkinson wishes people would start hearing loud and clear it’s “Spay or neuter your pets.”
Atkinson, who heads up the volunteer, non-profit group, Animals in Need, has been rescuing abandoned and stray cats and kittens for some 18 years.
“I still have the two today that I first rescued,” said Atkinson in her Clark’s Harbour home.
Over the years, Atkinson with the help of a handful of friends, has rescued hundreds of cats, raising funds to have the animals spayed and neutered, making sure they’re healthy, and finding them good homes.
“It’s steady going with cats all the time,” said Atkinson. “I had one dropped off today, there’s three more in Clam Point… I don’t know if it’s because we know more now or the problem is getting worse.”
With the continual exodus of Shelburne County residents to western Canada, Atkinson said it seems there are more cases of abandoned cats in recent years.
“There are a lot of colonies of cats that need help,” said Atkinson. “There’s always kitties needing homes. We’re just busy all the time.”
Atkinson said Animals in Need does “most of our work in the Municipality of Barrington,” but have also helped people in Shelburne and Yarmouth. “We don’t have any boundaries,” said Atkinson. “A cat is a cat. If it needs help, it needs help.”
Recently the group has rescued a mother cat and three kittens abandoned at the Barrington Municipal High School as well as another mother cat and two kittens from the Upper Clyde area. While homes have been found for all the kittens, the mothers are awaiting adoption.
“Right now I have four adult females who need homes,” said Atkinson. All have been spayed and have a clean bill of health.
And by the sound of things, there will be more coming up for adoption in the near future.
“We try to do the best for these animals and try to find them as good a home as possible,” said Atkinson, noting it’s important that when any pet animals are given away or sold that the person receiving the animal will be a responsible pet owner.
“Make sure your kittens and puppies go to a responsible person,” advised Atkinson to anyone who is giving away or selling pets.
And to pet owners who can’t afford to spay or neuter their pet, “ask for help,” said Atkinson, because spaying and neutering is the only way the stray and abandoned cat problem will ever be brought under control.
Atkinson said Animals in Need has helped a number of pet owners in that regard.
Animals in Need is supported through donations and the group’s fundraising efforts. “All the money that comes in is used for spaying and neutering and vet care,” said Atkinson.
Donations, including pet food, come in from various parts of the province. “There are a lot of cat lovers out there,” said Atkinson.
The group plans to hold several raffle draws in the upcoming months, and an auction early in the new year.
Updates on the group’s activities, as well as profiles of cats and kittens that are available for adoption, are featured on their facebook page, Animals in Need.
The group is always looking for volunteers to help or to foster cats. For further information Atkinson can be contacted at 902-745-2025.