Travis Clark hangs out with the fiesty manx cat 'Tigger' in Second Chance Pet Network's playroom

Eight year-old Travis Clark knows the place like the back of his hand.

What he sees every day disturbs him, like it disturbs every volunteer that plays a role in the day-to-day operation of the Second Chance Pet Network’s King St. shelter.

There’s a sadness, a sense of wrong, of injustice that you can’t help feeling and acting against.

“We went to the Animal Control one day to take pictures of a cat and there was this poor little dog there – that place looked cold, like a dungeon to animals,” said Travis. “That started encouraging me to save animals.”

The experience led to his recent attempt to pass a letter of his concerns onto Prime Minister Stephen Harper during his recent visit to Dryden. While it didn’t exactly work out the way he planned, his efforts didn’t go noticed by people in the community and his friends at school.

He says he hopes to have a note outlining his concerns hand-delivered to the Prime Minister.

“My friends support me,” says Travis. “They signed my petition and that’s like saying, ‘okay I’ll help you, I’ll fight for you too.”

Travis has also helped with an outreach program to local schools that that teach kids about responsible pet ownership and helped raise donations.

With 60 cats, Second Chance was filled to capacity last week, unable to take on additional animals.

“Fifty per cent of these animals are abandoned, left behind when someone had to move,” says Travis surveying row upon row of cages. “We’re happy when we have room. When people adopt a animal, it creates space for another animal to come in.”

Second Chance’s Heather Compardo says the organization is poised on the verge of a big fundraising push and examining their options for government funding and revenue generation for a necessary expansion.

“Our thought process is to find a spot whereby we can have kennels set up – a revenue producing entity that will support the shelter,” said Compardo. “We’re still doing the research as to the cost of building the kennels as well as the shelter building and looking for some place where we’re going to be a good neighbour. It would also need to have a small residence on it as we need someone there to look after it. We anticipate that we would have two-to-three paid positions coming out of that.”

The group’s recent pitch to The City of Dryden – a proposal to become the community’s official pet licensing agent, a move that would require cats to be licensed, didn’t find much support on council.

“It’s extremely disappointing,” said Compardo. “I’ve run all the figures for how much cats are costing pet control versus dogs. Basically, responsible dog owners are paying for all the costs relating to the cat situation. The city did say they would look at providing us with a token amount (of funding) each year.”

Compardo says they hope to ramp up efforts around Second Chance’s Build and Shelter Brick By Brick campaign in the fall.

By Chris Marchand

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Chris Marchand is a native of Dryden, Ontario. He served his first newspaper internship at The Dryden Observer in 1998 while attending journalism studies at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops B.C. He's worked desks as both reporter and editor at the Fernie Free Press as well as filled the role of sports editor at the Cranbrook Daily Townsman. Marchand was named editor of the Dryden Observer in Aug. 2009.

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