The New Westminster Animal Shelter has a full house of cats a year after a devastating feline virus spread through the facility.
The animal shelter currently has about 20 cats that are in need of loving homes.
"We are always kind of around our peak in September/October," said Nancy Millar, senior animal services officer. "July and August is when most come in. Summertime is kitten season. July 1 and Aug. 1 are the number one moving months."
Animal shelter staff will help people find the cat that is the best fit for their family.
"If you have another pet or small children, we know the cats - we know who will be a good fit or who would make a better choice for you," Millar said. "We do have an application process."
Two animal services officers screen the applications in an attempt to ensure the adoption is successful.
The New Westminster Animal Shelter is inviting residents to bring their pets to the animal shelter and let them sit with Santa for a Christmas photo. All proceeds from the pet pictures with Santa event, which has a suggested donation of $10, will go toward New Westminster emergency pet services.
Pet pictures with Santa take place on Sunday, Dec. 9 from 1 to 3 p.m. at 231 Ewen Ave.
Located in Queensborough, the animal shelter tries to find homes for homeless and abandoned animals.
Shelter staff would love to find a retirement home for the lone dog that is currently at the shelter, Raffiki, who has vision issues, is "spunky" and likes to play ball.
"She is a 12-year-old miniature poodle," Millar said. "Her age puts people off a little bit."
Sassy, a West Highland white terrier/ schnauzer mix, is in foster care, but is also available for adoption.
The staff at the animal shelter would dearly love to find permanent homes for a number of cats now in their care.
Last November, the New Westminster Animal Shelter battled an infectious feline viral disease - one cat died from the virus and 25 other cats were euthanized after contracting the strain of calicivirus. Since then, the shelter has tightened up its isolation protocols and taken other steps to prevent a situation like that from occurring in the future.
The shelter prevents cross contamination in the various rooms of the shelter through initiatives such as having separate stainless steel buckets for cleaning in each of the rooms and doing laundry for each room separately. The shelter has rooms for new arrivals (who are checked out and spend time in a separate room before joining the rest of the cats), a general adoption area open to the public, and an area where cats that are sick or showing signs of sickness are moved.
"We don't use plastic at all anymore," Millar said about one of the changes. "When it gets older, it gets more porous. We only use metal dishes now."
Millar said the animal shelter received a lot of financial donations after the calicivi-rus outbreak. Those funds have been used to purchase items that will help prevent similar problems from occurring in the future, including a stainless steel exam table that's used during examinations of new arrivals.
The New Westminster Animal Control Shelter has also ordered two stainless steel kitty condos. The condos, which cost upwards of $3,500 each, will house cats that can't be placed with the larger group of cats.
"They don't stand up to the kind of cleaning we do," Millar said of kitty condos made of other materials. "Stainless steel lasts forever and virus does not grow."
Staff at the animal shelter is grateful for the support and contributions that came in following last year's ordeal, Millar said.
"It was a very emotional time. We did feel supported by the community," she said. "Those donations have made a difference."
Anyone interested in adopting a pet from the animal shelter can drop by 231 Ewen Ave. between 10: 30 a.m. and 3: 30 p.m. seven days a week (excluding statutory holidays). The shelter also has a few cats at the Petcetera store at 439 North Rd., in Coquitlam.