Food donation rescues cat shelter

By Annette Lambly

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A donation of two pellets of dry cat food has bolstered Dargaville's Paws and Claws larder.

Paws and Claws is a community trust whose volunteers operates a small animal shelter to find new homes for unwanted pets.

Dargaville has not had an SPCA for more than a decade. Lack of volunteers and funds saw the branch slowly wind down activities until it closed in 2000. A series of voluntary co-ordinators with the help of a committee, volunteers and public donations had offered SPCA services since the early 1950s but no official shelter had ever been built.

Late last year passionate animal lover Marni Berghan, who for some time had become an unofficial contact person for people wanting to home unwanted animals, took up the cause and opened a shelter in the disused former vet clinic on Murdock St.

The shelter is only allowed to accommodate cats and small pets but not dogs because dogs were considered to be too noisy by neighbours and local authorities. Rather than turn them away Ms Berghan has looked after these at her rural home until such time homes could be found.

With no Government funding, the shelter (as do all SPCAs) relies on public donations, and local fund raising to operate

Since it opened its doors seven months ago Paws and Claws has found around 50 homes for unwanted animals - in some cases owners have taken more than one animal.

The shelter recently relocated from Murdock St to Beach Rd and has 10 kittens - all around six months old - which are already litter trained - and one black female cat.

The recent arrival of the donated cat food will "greatly help out the shelter," said Ms Berghan.

"Friskies recently changed its formula and packaging ... so decided that the best use for the other stock would be to find a way to donate it to worthy causes such as independent cat charities around the country, that rely on goodwill from others to feed all of their cats," said Mark White from Nestle Purina New Zealand.

The Dargaville delivery was part of a nationwide Friskies drop off, 140 pallets valued at $350,000 were delivered. "There were more charities in dire need ... more than we ever imagined," said Mr White. "We know the cat charities do a fantastic job, usually with limited funds so ... we donated as many pallets as they could accommodate so they can continue doing their great work."

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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