In the past month and a half, Dustin Alexander, Butte Humane Society’s communications and development manager, has fielded countless calls from members of the community worried that the nonprofit would no longer facilitate feline adoptions.
That’s because, beginning on Feb. 1, the Chico Animal Shelter stopped accepting stray, feral and surrendered cats.
“I spent one to two hours a day talking to owners,” said Alexander Tuesday morning (March 19) at the organization’s administrative offices on Fair Street. “Telling them, ‘We have not closed the Cat Adoption Center.’”
What people often don’t understand is that the city shelter and BHS are separate agencies, though the two work in cooperation, with BHS taking many of the city’s animals into its adoption programs. The shelter’s new policy of not accepting cats is in line with the stance many municipalities have taken in recent years, after decades of having an open-door intake policy yet making little or no headway in reducing the overall cat population.
Since the beginning of March, BHS has been conducting a pilot program allowing for the surrender of certain adoptable pet cats, and on Wednesday, March 20, that program was opened up to the general public. The Cat Rehoming Program requires those wishing to surrender a cat to fill out a detailed application form (found on the BHS website at www.buttehumane.org) that asks questions ranging from the animal’s age to what its personality is like.
Cats eligible for the program must be spayed or neutered and in good health. Each animal will be checked by a veterinary technician, Alexander noted, and then, depending on the availability of space at the Cat Adoption Center, accepted into the adoption program.
A visit to the clean and well-run facility this week revealed dozens of healthy adoptable cats scattered among a few rooms, lying on specially constructed PVC-pipe beds of various heights, peeking out of chests of drawers, and climbing on other cat-friendly accessories.
Alexander said the 31 cats up for adoption constitute a fairly small number, though behind the scenes dozens of other cats are being prepared for adoption. Only recently, with its adoptable-cat population on the lower side, BHS has begun partnering with animal-welfare agencies outside of Chico, taking in adoptable animals from such areas as Oroville, Corning and Orland.