By Meredith Ayan, Executive Director
I just returned from working in Iraq on an SPCA International spay and neuter event that was a wonderful example of proactive animal population control.
At a U.S. consulate, diplomats, contractors, and soldiers have constant feline companions. Despite tall walls, cats continue to find their way inside and make the consulate their home. Several months ago, officials asked SPCA International to help contain the cat population in a humane and effective way.
Our SPCA International team immediately got to work with consulate representatives to set up initial and ongoing procedures to ensure the cats at the consulate remain healthy, are sterilized, and don’t become a nuisance to the people working there.
The initial event was a great success. Two dedicated veterinarians, Dr. Hannah from Canada and Dr. Hemin from Iraq worked together with three local vet techs and our team of three SPCA International staff members to treat 22 cats. Several of the cats were already spayed or neutered, so we gave them vaccination boosters to keep them healthy.
The rest of the cats were spayed or neutered and given time to recover before being released. By sterilizing these cats, thousands of future births have been prevented, which means the consulate will avoid an unmanageable cat population exposed to illnesses and other environmental threats.
I also had the pleasure of meeting a contractor who adopted one of the consulate cats. He is an army veteran who has been stationed away from his family for most deployments and contracts. He shared that his cat, Ginger, had been the bright spot during his time in Iraq, always waiting for him when he got home from work. His 11-year-old daughter in the U.S. has been so excited to meet her new cat that she bought a bed and toys weeks ahead of time.
I was honored to accompany Ginger the cat home to the U.S. where she met her new family and will have the pampered life she deserves while she waits for her Dad to finish out his contract.
SPCA International helped the consulate put a long-term plan in place to maintain the size and health of the consulate cat population. In the future, cats will be trapped, receive medical care, and be sterilized, if necessary, on a monthly basis. This plan will ensure new cats are treated quickly and the consulate cat population stays at a manageable, healthy size.