north toronto cat rescue

Petition to save Toronto cat shelter garners 70k signatures but it still has to relocate

The North Toronto Cat Rescue has been in dire straits for the last few weeks after learning that it will need to completely vacate from its current home just north of the city, near Dufferin and Centre Streets in Vaughan, by the end of February.

The long-running rescue has issued multiple calls to the public and local officials for help in recent days so that its kitties can remain on site until the building is redeveloped in a few years, which is what it was expecting to be able to do when it moved in 2.5 years ago.

Due to zoning issues, founder Donna Cox has been scrambling for the last few weeks to find a new location before March 1 after thinking she'd have more time to make arrangements.

Cox penned an open plea to Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua earlier this month, writing that she had "hired lawyers to obtain a temporary Minor Variance (minor zoning issue) but as the hearing neared, Vaughan Animal Services deferred this process indefinitely and stated they are not allowing us to continue operating our no-kill facility."

"With VAS refusing to allow NTCR to remain in our current location, we are asking for your support... If you believe in a no-kill environment for these innocent, abandoned souls, then please sign this petition to help us continue our valuable work."

The petition has garnered nearly 70,000 signatures at the time of publication, though the outpouring of public support and nearly $15,000 raised has not resulted in any concrete solutions.

"Despite media attention, the mayor has not reacted to any pleas for support and despite seven realtors searching for a place, we have not had any luck yet nor has anyone offered a temporary suggestion so that we can continue helping the line-up outside begging for
some help," Cox told blogTO on Thursday.  "I am at a loss."

She adds that Vaughan Animal Services has dropped by and suggested some renovations that could potentially help the rescue fit zoning requirements — things like new flooring and paint, as suggested by an officer this week.

"I am considering revamping the shelter with all new paint and flooring
perhaps with the help of a contractor who would step up for a tax receipt or a reasonable cost to help us survive there for another 2.5/3 years, and we'd need to put drains in every room," Cox said.

Even if she somehow made the changes in the next few days, she's unsure if the rescue would be allowed to stay. As it stands now, all cats have been removed from the shelter and are safe in foster care — but only for the time being.

"If we get all her rules written down and can meet the ask, and find a contractor who will help, then MAYBE. Still we are looking [for a new location] as these cats are soon being returned from foster care," she said.

"We need to find a short term temporary solution or a long term one, whatever it is, ASAP."

Lead photo by

North Toronto Cat Rescue

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