The Boundary Helping Hands Feline Rescue Society will have a new home — at last — and this time it will permanent.
The volunteer rescue organization that is working with Grand Forks’ feral and wild cat population will be moving into a new home, after several years of operating out of temporary quarters in flood-damaged houses. These houses, that were badly damaged by the flooding in 2018 were bought out by the City of Grand Forks, explains Kimberly Feeny, founder of the Rescue Society. The city offered these houses to the Society on a temporary basis.
“The first one they put us in, we stayed there for about four months, then had to move because it was scheduled for demolition,” Feeny said. “We’re currently in a second one, much smaller. We only have about 500 square feet. And again, this is temporary. We’ve been here about a year.
“But we’ve been working with the [Regional District of Kootenay Boundary] and the City of Grand Forks, attempting to find a permanent location. And the city of Grand Forks has found this place for us to move to.
“It was also one of the damaged houses — it’s stripped right down to the bare bones and needs to be fully renovated. Which is great for us, because we can make it exactly what we want it to be.”
The current shelter also has a 25-foot RV that houses extra cats. There are about 35 cats in the shelter at the moment, and others in foster homes.
“We had 17 kittens born last week,” Feeny said. “Kitten season is hitting us hard already.”
Like other communities, Grand Forks has a considerable feral cat population.
“We rescue any and all cats that require it,” Feeny said. “We took in about 20 tom cats just in January and February in different stages of injury. One of them was about to lose an eye. Thankfully we got him in time and were able to save it.”
Rehabilitation is very important to the society. It works with the cats to try to turn them into pets, rather than operating just a trap-neuter-release program, “because then they’re still living rough,” Feeny said.
“Places like our’s that have the winter season, it’s really difficult for kitties to live like that. So if we can turn them into loving cats we do, and we’ve been very successful with that.”
Feeny moved to Grand Forks from Kelowna in 2019. She at once noticed an unusually large number of “random cats running around” in the RV park where she lived.
“So I started trapping cats and bringing them to other rescue agencies, like Critter Aid out in Summerland and the Kootenay Animal Assistance Program .
“There was just so many. And people started hearing I was doing this, and I started getting calls — ‘my neighbour has 50 cats on his property, can you help him?’
“I think with the lack of an SPCA or animal rescue organization out here, for more than 10 years, the stray feral and wild cat situation has gotten out of control, and we’re trying to put an end to that.
“If you have a female cat that has kittens, surrender the kittens to us and allow us to care for them and get them spayed and neutered and adopted out properly so we don’t have more issues.”
The society plans on holding fundraisers, and already has a Gofundme account set up, to help mitigate costs.
“We do a lot of fundraisers for extra money, because the adoption fee we charge is quite minimal and barely covers the medical requirement for the cats. It’s important to me that they go to good homes, but also that the adoption fee is kept reasonable.”
The Boundary Helping Hands Feline Rescue Society is completely volunteer-based, including Feeny, who says it’s become her life’s work.
“I’ve completely dedicated my life to this. And I was very lucky to meet such an amazing group. We have 40 to 50 volunteers and fosters that help out on a daily basis. We have a set schedule of volunteers that come in and do the feeding and cleaning. And great support from the community as well.”
For more information on the Boundary Helping Hands Feline Rescue Society, check out their website https://www.boundaryfelinerescuesociety.org/