June 16th, 2024

Last Chance Cat Ranch attempts to set record straight

By Tim Kalinowski on May 29, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDtkalinowski@lethbridgeherald.com

The dozens of volunteers, and numerous other monetary supporters, of the Last Chance Cat Ranch are setting the record straight about what they do in the community after recent insults leveled against them at the Community Safety Standing Policy Committee meeting of city council earlier this week.
“All our volunteers are very upset,” confirmed Laurie Olmsted, a Cat Ranch volunteer and board member who is the designated spokesperson for the organization on this issue. “Some of us work 20 hours a week working with the rescue in some capacity to hope we make the difference. Through the course of that meeting the undercurrent of negativity, and the negative things that were put out there, we just got the feeling like they consider us some kind of blight. Where in reality we have saved thousands of cats over the course of time the organization has been in existence.”
Olmsted said if people knew the stories of the animals they have rescued, rehabilitated and rehomed over the years they would understand why her passionate volunteers are upset about misleading comments made by individuals, city officials and committee members at that meeting.
“The hardest thing for volunteers is to witness the abuse, and the negligence, and the hardships some of the animals that come through our doors have experienced,” she said. “Everything from major wounds, to absolute near-death emaciation from starvation, poor health, teeth very bad, full worms, and just really poor health for (cats) that have been out in the elements for sometimes years. It is very difficult to have cats come through the door who have needed, perhaps, an eye removal like one we had just recently, or severe bite wounds to a neck that have become infected and abscessed, to dentals that are so bad the cat has to be in absolute agony.
“We get them the help they need, and help them recuperate and get through that. And many times we lose them. We have lost many animals because they are too far gone by the time they get help. That is the hardest part.
“The most rewarding part is the flipside of that: watching these animals thrive again.”
Olmsted said she fully understands people’s frustrations with roaming cats, but the Cat Ranch does not allow any of its rescue cats to roam free.
“We have no roaming cats,” she emphasized. “We’ve done renovations to the house where we have cat-perch beds on the wall, where the cat can get up by walkways and have their own space. We’ve got three catios in the back.”
The Ranch has three distinct living areas for the cats, who move in and out as they get adopted, which numbers about 40 at any given time in the main house, and only 12 full time sanctuary cats on site in a different living space who are elderly or have health issues which make them unadoptable.
There are no residents living on the property full time, and the cats are cared for by about 60 volunteers who work two shifts of three people each on a daily basis.
“These cats are cared for and well-maintained,” said Olmsted. “They are loved on. They are brushed. They are played with. If they are shy (of humans), they are encouraged to trust. Every single day those cats are interacted with by our volunteers. There is no break for what we do. We are there twice a day, minimum, cleaning, doing laundry, doing dishes, feeding, vacuuming, mopping, scooping litter, and plain socializing with the animals. Plus giving meds to those who happen to be sick.”
As for suggestions that their property is “unlivable” leveled at the SPC meeting, Olmsted said it is absolutely false, and thanked senior bylaw officer Dave Henley for making that very clear to committee members despite what one disgruntled neighbour with a longstanding grudge against the Cat Ranch might have to say on the matter.
“This is light years away from a derelict property,” she said. “This is a new home. It is maybe four-years-old. It is maintained every day. We look after the furnace, and everything is done day after day. We have volunteers that do maintenance, cleaning, and outside cleaning.”
As for the issue of a cat bylaw, Olmsted said the Cat Ranch would be supportive of something which stated all cat owners in the city had to apply for a licence which at least required their felines to be spayed or neutered before being adopted.
“The biggest problem in the city when they start talking about wanting a cat bylaw is cats roaming,” she confirmed. “It’s an absolutely horrific problem in this city, and the other side of that is the amount of colonies of cats that are abandoned and lost souls in Lethbridge is really awful. We are not sure, in our opinion, the City does enough on that side of things to help control that situation.
“We are trying to do our best to stem some of that problem. We spay and neuter. There are no cats at the house that are not spayed or neutered if they are well enough to get spayed or neutered when they come.”
The cats also all receive their vaccinations before being adopted or fostered out, she added.
But, said Olmsted, it is one thing for a city committee to debate and consider a cat bylaw, and another thing entirely to allow an individual to come in and slander the Last Chance Cat Ranch, and all its volunteers and supporters in the community, by providing, what she terms, “lies” to committee members about condition of their property and the care given to its rescue cats.
“It’s distressing,” she said, “to say the very least.”

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thank you, cat ranch, and all the volunteers that give their time to provide service that often involves heartbreak as well as elation. one wonders what a vile soul it takes to hurt or abandon an animal with intent. as well, what a sad sack of a sick individual would feel it necessary to pick a fight, without justification, with an organisation that is borne of heart. a life loser, in my opinion.
kudos to all the other orgs that help animals in distress, including noka, paws, and the lethbridge humane. there are so many at work, and still, there are more animals in need. for those that may not volunteer, a few dollars in support is indeed no small deed. thank you.

Seth Anthony

Excellent letter and excellent reply Biff.

I’m takin aback at why someone would try to “dis” such a caring organization and caring group of people.

Incidentally, The Last Chance Cat Ranch is just one of the animal welfare charities that I donate to monthly.

Last edited 3 years ago by Seth Anthony

you have a great heart, seth! good will is infectious…peace and growth 🙂