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Restoring faith in humanity

Public responds to help newborn kittens found abandoned in a tied up grocery bag at the Barrhead compost site

BARRHEAD-It looks like there will be a happy ending to what could have been a tragic story.

Late in the afternoon of Oct. 13, Fleur Whitley was making her final trip of the day to collect leaves for the Community Garden at the Town of Barrhead's compost site near the fire hall when she heard a strange sound.

It turns out the noise was the mewing of six newborn kittens in a securely-tied double grocery bag next to a newly-dumped pile of leaves.

"They were just screaming," she said.

Whitley brought the kittens to Barr-North Veterinary Clinic near their closing time. "They told me they might have to be put down," Whitley said.

Fortunately, that wasn't the case as a Barr-North staff member took them home to bottle feed the kittens, who were estimated to be only three or four days old.

The staff member then put out an SOS via their Facebook page looking for people to foster the young kittens, especially those with a nursing mother cat that might be capable of adding to her litter.

Within a few hours, Barr-North received several offers from people willing to either hand feed the newborns or add them to a nursing mother’s litter.

Whitley said she cannot fathom why the individual chose to dispose of the kittens in the manner that they did.

"I can't imagine too many ways that could be more inhuman," she said. 

"To leave them out in the elements and let them starve and dehydrate or freeze to death is just so cruel."

She is also hoping the authorities can learn the identity of whoever left the kittens at the compost site and lay criminal charges under the province's Animal Protection Act.

"The bottom line is that people need to take responsibility for their animals. If they choose to get an animal, then they need to get it spayed or neutered," Whitley said. "I understand the financial aspect and sometimes money is short, but I am sure if you went to a veterinary clinic and were sincere about it, they would work with you."

Barr-North Veterinary Services marketing and PR director Holly Couiyk agreed, saying pet owners need to take more responsibility for their animals.

While they were pleased that they were able to lend a hand, Couiyk said the clinic isn't set up to serve as a shelter, even though people often bring animals that are not their own who are in distress.

"We are like a hospital, not a rescue. We have to keep our patients safe. We don't know what kind of stuff (the animals) are bringing in," Couiyk said. "It is unfortunate, and it is something we see all too often. But this time, we were able to help out and the way the community responded helped restore our faith in humanity."

As for the kittens, Couiyk said she is hopeful that they will survive, in large part to the assistance of the "surrogate mammas" who stepped in to help nurse them. 

She added on Saturday, Oct 15, Barr-North is holding a Nail-Trims fundraiser where people can bring in their pets from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. and get their nails trimmed, with the proceeds going to the clinic's stray animal fund. As part of the event, Barr-North is organizing a pet walk starting from the Barrhead United Church from 2 to 3 p.m. on the trails in Beaver Brook Estates area. 

Couiyk said they will also be looking for full-time homes for the kittens in about six to eight weeks. 

Anyone interested in giving one of the kittens their forever home as well as those who would like to donate to the stray animal fund are invited to contact the clinic.

Barry Kerton,


Barry Kerton

About the Author: Barry Kerton

Barry Kerton is the managing editor of the Barrhead Leader, joining the paper in 2014. He covers news, municipal politics and sports.
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