One of our founding members, Lynne Maynard, took great efforts early on in our inception to find a home for NAPS. A place for cold and hungry strays to rest their heads and fill their bellies while she searched for their forever homes. The society originally formed in 2003 after several Nanton residents noticed a need for animal welfare.
By 2007, Lynne was relieved and grateful to have the support of local businessman Kin Leong, owner of Mountain Top Foods. He happened to have an empty trailer sitting on his property, of which he offered to NAPS. And so began the lease of the trailer NAPS would call home for the next 10 years. The generosity of Mr. Leong in our time of need has never been forgotten, and has helped us to have an incredible impact on the lives of countless abandoned, homeless and feral animals.
Our Current Home
The Leong trailer is roughly 600 sq feet of space, and if you've ever been in the shelter, you'll know that while it isn't cosmetically appealing, it does a good job of providing enough comfortable living space for around 25-30 cats at its fullest. There is a small "medical isolation room" used to monitor cats with illness, and a small supply storage room used to store dishes, medical supplies, food, bedding, and more. Lastly, there is an open concept space, where the shelters residents are uncaged, and free to roam as they would in a home setting. The cats are entirely free-roaming, choosing to eat/drink/sleep where and when they please. There are various cat tree's and sleeping spots, windows for natural light and bird watching, and tons of toys donated by our loyal supporters. There is even an outdoor cat run where when weather permits, the cats can lay in the sun and chase bugs.
A shelter resident enjoying the outdoor cat aviary.
Trouble at Home
By this time, you may be wondering why NAPS is looking to move. While the building has been a blessing, it also has its draw backs.
We are unsure of the original use of the building, or even when it was built. What we do know is that there is no running water or sewage access. For almost a decade volunteers have been carting in fresh water, required for cleaning, and drinking water for the animals. We have been able to make due over the years, however a real and pressing concern for keeping things sterile and safe for our volunteers and the animals exists. We have had to rely heavily on frequent sterilization with chemicals to ensure we are preventing the spread of disease and keeping things sanitary. No running water also means no bathroom, which has been more than an inconvenience for volunteers working at the shelter for lengthy periods of time or even for potential adopters.
Other draw backs of the facility include a lack of proper insulation. During the winter months, even with the furnace in working order, the water in the drinking bowls has been known to freeze, leaving cats with no water source between volunteer work shifts.
Attempts to replace windows and reduce heat loss have been made difficult by the overall deterioration of the structure.
Our Medical Isolation Room - Just two kennels for new arrivals, no ventilation, and just one small window for sun light.
The cosmetic issues with our current home are more than just an eye sore. Wood paneling and floors make it hard to sterilize surfaces. Lack of proper ventilation makes things dusty frequently, and can contribute to health issues with the animals living in the shelter. Keeping the interior temperature manageable through the seasons can be difficult as well.
Not Enough Space
The medical isolation room mentioned is small, and can house only two adult cats at a time, or a mother and litter of nursing kittens. This is a set back, in that animals newly surrendered to NAPS are to be housed separately from the general population for two weeks to ensure they are healthy and their vaccines have taken affect. If both kennels in the isolation room are in use, NAPS must turn away any new intakes until those cages become available again. This is especially trying during kitten season, when NAPS can see as many as 10 separate litters of kittens over a 2 month period. NAPS turns away multiple surrender requests each month as a result of our lack of space to take in more animals at one time.
The shelter's 600 sq feet of space can legally hold 33 cats at one time according to the Alberta Humane Society standards. This may seem like a large number to most, but those who are familiar with the industry can tell you that this is only a small portion of animals in need of our help. NAPS accepts intakes from High River, Cayley, Nanton, Parkland, Vulcan, Milo, Claresholm, Champion, Lethbridge and the rural areas in between. Depending on the time of year, we are approached between 5 and 15 times a month to take in surrenders or trap strays in the mentioned areas. While there are several other shelters operating in close proximity to us, these shelters are often at capacity and are overwhelmed with the level of need in their respective areas. Often times, someone who has been turned away by other area shelters will come to NAPS as a last resort.
The Nanton Animal Protection Society may seem to focus primarily on felines. This is not by choice. Our current home does not allow us to safely house multiple species. There is no safe and humane way to keep canines in the building without risking the health and mental well being of the felines already in our care.
With a larger facility, we could then extend our reach to other animals, such as dogs, reptiles, birds and other exotics, horses and other farm animals, all without having to put pressure on foster homes. At this time, NAPS must search for adequate foster homes for animals that cannot be housed in our facility. If a foster home cannot be arranged, NAPS is forced to turn the surrendered animal away.
Two orphaned kittens requiring frequent bottle feedings were surrendered to NAPS after being found under a shed with no mom. They were placed in foster care with a local family who helps NAPS out.
Time to Make a Change
Year after year, the need for NAPS has increased as the population of Nanton increases. Our small facility is no longer meeting the needs of the community and surrounding areas, and we are bursting at the seams.
NAPS needs a new home!
See Part 2 for details on our search for a new home!
This NAPS Blog Post was written by Shelter Manager & NAPS Director Kim Williamson