Well over 400 stray cats call this city home, and a small group of volunteers collected donations for their care at Five Churches Brewing Sunday.
This was the brewery’s third fundraiser for the Animal Alliance Welfare League of New Britain, (AAWL) a non-profit group dedicated to preventing the suffering of homeless felines around the city.
About 25 volunteers help to feed stray colonies on a daily basis and a core group of about six people bring the maximum-allowed four cats per week to the Dakin Humane Society in Springfield, Mass. to have them spayed and neutered.
AAWL’s board is raising money to open a spay/neuter clinic in New Britain, where the feral cat population has surged the last several years.
“The problem is astronomical,” AAWL President Kathy Moss explained. “People move and leave their cats behind.”
Many times these delinquent pet owners refuse to spend the money to have their animals spayed or neutered, a service that costs upwards of $500. Feral females reproduce about three times a year and can have over 15 kittens in a single season.
“It’s just a vicious cycle,” board secretary Deb Piccolo pointed out. “We don’t have a shelter facility so we do TNR - Trap, Neuter, Release. If we had a low-cost veterinarian who was willing to help us and a facility it would cut down on the cost dramatically.”
Volunteer Peter Varhol handed Piccolo a $20 bill before he walked upstairs to the tap room at Five Churches.
“The city of New Britain needs all the help it can get when it comes to taking care of the ferals here in town,” Varhol said. “The pets don’t have a voice. You and I have to take care of them.”
Neither the City of New Britain nor the Connecticut Humane Society have stepped up to address the feral problem and help out the AAWL, volunteers said.
“In the past month we’ve had to bring three cats to be euthanized because they were hit by cars,” Piccolo said.
The owners of Five Churches are animal people and happy to help out the AAWL.
“Animals have always been close to our hearts,” Dru Lemnotis, one of the owners, explained.
“We all love our animals and we’re very much about helping the neighborhood and making it a better place,” he added.
For an optional $20 donation to the AAWL, Sunday’s customers received a personal pizza and a pint on the house.
Five Churches hosts a fundraiser every month benefiting a different area organization or cause.
Volunteers from Desmond’s Army Noreen Lotko and Byrne Barrenger stopped by the brewery to help out some fellow animal lovers.
“It’s an animal cause and we’re animal rights advocates,” Lotko said.
Desmond’s Army protects the legal rights of abused animals.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at email@example.com.