Expanding capacity to care for the pets of people in need is one of the projects Bendigo Animal Welfare and Community Services will undertake with a new $50,000 grant.
The organisation’s president, Debbie Edwards, said the state government grant would go towards the expansion of its emergency kennel facilities from six to 18, to meet growing demand.
Ms Edwards said these kennels were made available to people who were temporarily unable to care for their animals, such as those experiencing domestic violence, people entering rehabilitation facilities or elderly people admitted to hospital.
“We try and support people to keep pets, rather than surrender pets,” Ms Edwards said.
She said this service was unique in the region and filled a gap in service provision.
The funding will also resource a feline desexing and responsible cat ownership program.
The program will offer cheaper fees for the desexing of cats, as well as vaccination and microchipping, for people who might not otherwise be able to afford it.
People who have their cats treated through the program will also be given a kit on how they can best care for their cat, including advice on how they can keep their cat contained on their property, in either an enclosure or indoors.
Ms Edwards said the desexing program had been run in the past and the uptake increased each year.
“A lot of people want to be responsible, but they can’t afford it,” she said.
Ms Edwards said overbreeding was a significant issue with cats, because they were prolific breeders and often left free to wander, exposing them to greater opportunity to mate than other pets, such as dogs.
She said a lot of kittens ended up as strays or in the pound, where they could be euthanised.
BAWCS wants to promote cats as valuable, not disposable, pets.
It is hoped the desexing program will be launched at the end of the month and the new kennels will be finished by the end of the year.
Ms Edwards said she was appreciative of the state government grant, as there were not many funding opportunities available for animal welfare services.
BAWCS was one of eight successful applicants for large grants in the latest round of the animal welfare grants.