Kittens die after horrific ride to landfill

Waste management commission implementing protocols to deal with abandoned animals

Tuesday, Sep 11, 2012 06:00 am | By Johnnie Bachusky | Didsbury Review

The tragic death of seven newborn kittens, discovered at the Didsbury landfill site in a garbage bin delivered from Olds, has prompted the Mountain View Regional Waste Management Commission to implement protocols for staff to ensure humane treatment and transfer of care for recovered animals.

Don Reid, the commission’s chief administrative officer, admitted no official protocols are now in place to deal with abandoned animals found at the landfill site, located two kilometres northwest of Didsbury. However, he said the incident has prompted the agency to have one in place for staff within the next 30 days.

“We are developing it in partnership with the Wild Rose Humane Society (WRHS),” said Reid, who added the site has experienced “uncommon” incidents of abandoned animals since the commission began operating the facility in 2004.

The unsettling recent incident, which triggered an internal and RCMP probe last week, came to light with a Sept. 4 report that seven kittens, believed to be only five to seven days old, were discovered in one of the bins.

Melissa Trotter, Didsbury animal control officer, was called but her rescue attempts were cut short when Calgary Humane Society officials told her a mature female cat was unavailable to nurse the kittens. As well, added Trotter, she discovered she had no jurisdiction to intervene as an agreement between the town and Mountain View County stipulates her office is only allowed to go into the county to take custody of a dog, but not cats. Under its Animal Control Bylaw, the county does not regulate cats.

On Sept. 5, both Reid and Didsbury RCMP initiated separate probes to find out what happened with the newborn kittens.

Reid said he was told by staff the kittens were placed in a “warm” box and then taken out of the facility by a driver.

Although admitting landfill staff has no official set of protocols in place to handle abandoned animals, he said staff did their best to ensure the kittens were not further traumatized.

Didsbury RCMP Cpl. Warren Wright said his probe revealed the driver soon discovered one kitten was already dead, another near death, three were suffering from broken legs and two were significantly bloodied.

“Realizing this, the man was of the view he had no other option but to destroy these animals as painlessly and humanely as possible,” said Wright, adding the man buried the kittens shortly after.

Wright said it was difficult to establish how the kittens arrived in the Olds garbage bin. He said it was possible the creatures were deliberately dumped, or a pregnant mother cat could have chosen the bin to give birth to the kittens.

The police officer, who is also a WRHS board member, said he is bringing the issue to the board’s meeting this week in Airdrie. Wright said he wants to create a list of animal rescue groups and humane societies for landfill staff to utilize in future similar situations.

Meanwhile, the incident has also underscored the urgency to finally have a physical presence in the region for the WRHS, said Didsbury’s Derek Sutherland, the society’s vice-president.

“There is a real lack of space to bring stray animals in this area,” said Sutherland, adding he hopes the region’s long-awaited facility will be up and running in the county by the end of 2013. “Right now the closest humane societies are in Red Deer and Calgary and they are often overwhelmed. They are a long ways away and not always convenient for people who may look for easier ways to get rid of an animal and not give them a chance for a good home.”


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