June 22nd, 2024

City stop order issued for Last Chance Cat Ranch facility


By Lethbridge Herald on March 10, 2022.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman Last Chance Cat Ranch new volunteer orientee Mei Heggie, familiarizes herself with the cats that she will be helping take care of at the LCCR.

Alejandra Pulido-Guzman – Lethbridge Herald

The Last Chance Cat Ranch has been issued a Stop Order from the City of Lethbridge based on non-compliance with Land Use Bylaw 6300, operating as “Animal Care, Major.” 

LCCR founder Elizabeth Ginn believes this is happening based on the complaints of one neighbour that have escalated since last May. 

“He’s gone to great lengths to basically get rid of us, he wants us to move,” said Ginn. 

Ginn said the stop order does not allow them to have more than two volunteers per day at the house. She said this in itself would invoke allegations of animal cruelty and neglect because they need at least six volunteers at the house to look after the needs of the cats. 

She said they have alerted the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and they have been trying to speak to the city manager, but she is not sure how far that has gone. 

“We have some cats that are on high medical care, they need to be fed several times a day special foods, vet appointments… it’s impossible,” said Ginn. 

She said they are also supposed to have food delivered only once every seven days and they are not to publicize where they are, or what they are doing. 

“We had a Facebook page for 16 years, we are not a public facility, we are not a business per say that is open to the public to come and go,” said Ginn. 

The LCCR has been operating from the same facility for 18 years, they are a no-kill facility that is willing to take on the hard cases from 17 different communities across southern Alberta. They are also a registered charity with Revenue Canada. 

“We run entirely on donations and fundraising and in all these years we have raised over $2 million, which has gone into local businesses. We support local vet clinics, local pet food supply stores and UFA where we buy all our litter. We have been an integral part of the community,” said Ginn. 

Ginn said now that they have been told they can no longer continue operations at the present location, it means it is going to put more cats in the community at risk. 

“We are looking for a new location, however it’s really unfair to the cats and unfair to our volunteers. The cats are in a home environment, and they know what it is like to look out the window, what it is like to be in a kitchen,” said Ginn. 

To help with the cost of finding a new location a gofundme page has been created by one of the volunteers at https://gofund.me/26e15212. The campaign is aiming at raising $300,000. 

Ginn said they have made an appeal which she said will be heard at City Hall on March 31 at 4 p.m. in council chambers, and it is open to the public. 

The City issued a statement regarding the matter that reads, “The Last Chance Cat Ranch has been issued a phased in stop order for being in violation with the City’s Land Use Bylaw. The specifics of the order have been provided to the organization and they have been given time to make this transition to ensure the animals can be cared for.”

“When the City issues a stop order, there is an operational process that is followed by City staff. To be fair to all parties, there is also a clearly defined appeal process through the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB).” 

“At this time, the Last Chance Cat Ranch has filed an appeal to the SDAB and that process will be followed, as per legislation. The date of that appeal is being set at this time, working with the Last Chance Cat Ranch to determine an appropriate time.”

“The work of the Last Chance Cat Ranch has been a valued service in our community and we thank the dedicated volunteers that have helped the organization over the years.” 

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Southern Albertan

What about the other neighbours? Have they complained? Maybe that should be taken into consideration.

hedgehog

No others have complained that they know of, just the one who moved in a few years ago…. long after LCCR had been at the location. He knew he was choosing to live next to a cat rescue, did it anyway, and is now forcing them to close.

Southern Albertan

If he knew beforehand, that should definitely be taken into consideration. It’s something like our rural residential area here in southern Alberta, i.e. anyone who wishes to do a new build/development is made aware that the negative odors from surrounding livestock operations cannot be used for complaints, and at times, when lagoons (manure) are opened up, the smell can be so bad, I wouldn’t even hang laundry on the line. It’s sort of a ‘grandfathering’ thing with which we live with.

bladeofgrass

I wonder if the council members have ever found a cat in the cold (but for whatever reason couldn’t keep it) Good luck finding an available placement in the other shelters “Sorry we’re full” is the repetitive answer. Not only that, the shelters keep them in tiny cages where they can’t walk/run around. And have such restrictions on their adoption policies, where they are in there for Years!!! The Cat Ranch offers the next best thing to a ‘true’ home for the cats… freedom to play, run and sleep among each other. This should have been brought as a Public Hearing. Not because one person who moved there (knowing full well who his neighbor was) to cause such grief for them. Sign of our times… complain and bully the loudest and thou shall get their way??

pursuit diver

Like many other businesses or non-profits, you have out grown your ability to shelter that many animals without impacted the ‘residential’ neighbourhood. You may be compassionated and doing a great thing, but your are impacting the peace of your neighbours near you. I would bet that if there was a hidden vote, that would protect the identities of your area neighbours, there would be more than one.
I for one would be supporting that ‘one’ person! When you have that many animals in a ‘residential’ neighbourhood you should expect blowback!
Your ‘cat RANCH’ says it all, a RANCH should be in the rural area! If you don’t want neighbours complaining, perhaps move a nearby farm where the cats have plenty of room and no one will be impacted.

yqlresident

Well said. It’s pretty clear this was never allowed in the first place and the only reason they got away with it for so long is because they’re so irrational no one wanted to deal with them. Now that their borrowed time is up it’s time to for them to handle the situation like adults and quit pointing fingers.

yqlresident

“Our neighbour who isn’t breaking has gone to great lengths to prove we were breaking the law. We’re upset that no one will turn a blind eye to us anymore so we’re going to be loud and stomp our feet”