February 07, 2017BARNSTEAD — A joint effort between the police department and the SPCA led to the rescue of about three dozen cats last week. The latter organization is hoping to find permanent homes for the cats, now being treated before being put up for adoption.
In the meantime, local residents wanting to contribute food or treats can come by the police station to drop off donated items.
Police investigated on the afternoon on Feb. 1, triggered by an anonymous tip.
Police chief Paul Poirier said his force responded to the call and visited the 189 Hartshorn Road residence.
"We were allowed access to a portion of the house," Poirier recalled.
"When we arrived at the residence, it was clear that we would require more specialized support," the chief continued.
Having made the initial contact with the cats' owners and ascertaining that a follow-up would be necessary, Poirier said his department paid a follow-up visit accompanied by officials from the Pope Memorial SPCA of Concord-Merrimack County - the organization's closest chapter.
"This was about the most severe instance of animal neglect I've seen," Chief Poirier said, recalling about three decades in law enforcement.
Poirier acknowledged the humanity and professionalism of Tona McCarthy, Director of Field Services for the organization.
"The SPCA's staff expertise was a real asset in dealing with how to manage such a large number of animals in need of assistance," Poirier recalled.
McCarthy was not available to speak to the Baysider, but the Pope Memorial SPCA was kind enough to arrange for operations director Cathy Emerson to speak to the paper.
"They were really just overwhelmed and didn't know where to turn," Emerson speculated of the cats' owners. She said her colleague McCarthy, responded to the call and performed exemplarily.
"It's not that [the cats] were mistreated, but rather it appeared things just got a little out of control," Emerson speculated
"The cats were not spayed or neutered, and they just kept reproducing," she added, reckoning that this led to the large number that ultimately needed to be rescued.
"When [the SPCA] arrived on the scene, some cats were crated, and the owner said it was because the females were in heat," Emerson added. "So they were aware of the problem and wanted to keep them separated as a way to stop the multiplying she continued.
The SPCA operations director said that the initial rescue involved 30 felines - but that a follow-up visit resulted in the rescue of an additional four cats.
"There were a lot of piles and other places where cats could hide," Emerson said, based on what McCarthy told her.
"We were happy to step in - that's our job," Emerson said. "Now we're thinking about what the next steps are."
At the moment, the rescued cats are being stabilized, receiving medical treatments and nutritional remediation.
Emerson said that all are being spayed or neutered and are being de-flead as necessary.
"Our goal is to find loving, caring homes for these cats," Emerson said.
"The rescued cats will be up for adoption soon," she added, noting that foster care opportunities are also available.
"We do everything we can in a rescue situation to pair a rescue with a caring, loving companion," Emerson said.
The SPCA staffer added, "We're very appreciative of what the police department in Barnstead did to engage us." Emerson said that such tips are vital to her agency's efforts to ensure the safety of local animals.
Looking forward, the group is doubling down on efforts to find the cats adoptive families.
The SPCA recently prominently posted on its homepage, "Since the Police Department and the SPCA rescued the 34 cats yesterday, we have been getting many requests from individuals wanting to donate cat food, treats, etc."
The site continued, "If you would like to help - and believe me help is needed - to feed all these cats, and it would be greatly appreciated by all. The Barnstead Police will be collecting donations to bring to the Pope Memorial SPCA, and we would like nothing better then to be able to deliver a cruiser full of food and treats to these cats and others."
It concluded, "If you have a pet food, treat or other new item that you'd want to donate, please stop by the Barnstead Police Department and drop it in the box in our lobby, and we'll be happy to make the delivery once the box is full. Thank you."...We need the public's help to address the many needs of these cats."
The post also encouraged residents to"[d]onate to help cover the costs of their daily needs and medical care. Emerson noted all of the felines are receiving comprehensive care prior to be putting up for adoption or foster care.
According to the Pope Memorial SPCA's Webs ite, "The cats were surrendered to PMSPCA's care and will receive the necessary hygienic and surgical attention needed to ready them for adoption into new, loving homes.
"What we learned from their brief initial evaluation on the evening they arrived is that they all will need bathing and grooming (many are long-haired Persians and Himalayans) and many also will need spay/neuter and dental surgery. Also one of them is due to give birth soon."
Local residents wanting to help can donate to the SPCA directly, volunteer, or offer to adopt one of the cats. People interested can call 856-8756 or visit www.popememorialspca.org. The group also has a Facebook page and updates are available under the hashtag, #Barnstead30.