Quesnel rescue group offers feral felines a second chance

Dee Dunphy, as part of the TNR project (Trap, Neuter, Release), has been helping to rescue feral cats and find them new homes — either in barns or residences in or around Quesnel — since 2015. (Photos submitted)Dee Dunphy, as part of the TNR project (Trap, Neuter, Release), has been helping to rescue feral cats and find them new homes — either in barns or residences in or around Quesnel — since 2015. (Photos submitted)
Jasper (pictured) was the first kitten — one of nine adults and 13 kittens — Quesnel resident Dee Dunphy has rescued from the Quesnel Landfill. (Photos submitted)Jasper (pictured) was the first kitten — one of nine adults and 13 kittens — Quesnel resident Dee Dunphy has rescued from the Quesnel Landfill. (Photos submitted)
Photos submittedPhotos submitted
Photos submittedPhotos submitted

Cats living on their ninth life are being granted a 10th by a Quesnel resident and a program aimed at rescuing feral felines.

Dee Dunphy, who has lived in the city since 1979, discovered an initiative called TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release) after stumbling across a colony of feral cats while working in the Two Mile Flat area in 2015 and wondering what she could do to help.

Since 2017 Dunphy, along with a loose group of volunteers and friends who help her, have rescued over 300 feral cats and spayed or neutered another 200. TNR has also provided help to low-income residents to spay or neuter their domestic cats.

Dunphy’s latest cat capers have taken her to the Quesnel landfill after it was discovered by an employee several feral cats were living dangerously among the trash and debris.

“They have a big dump bin everyone puts their garbage into and they went to move one to empty it and they found a kitten behind it,” she said. “They caught the kitten and then contacted me, and I went and picked it up.”

The kitten, now named Jasper, was the first of several spotted among a large, metal pile.

Dunphy then went in with several traps — some tailored for adults and other for kittens — and has since rescued nine adults and 13 kittens since May, all of whom have now been fixed and found new barn homes.

Dunphy explained barn homes are a perfect, safe location for feral cats because most are not socialized to be friendly toward humans as pets.

“Feral cats have no human contact or had very little contact when they were young, or abandoned when they were young and, basically, left for themselves,” Dunphy said. “They don’t know human contact and what we are to them is a predator. Some can be socialized but, depending on how old they are, mom has already taught them to live a feral life.”

Dunphy said by the time kittens reach 12 to 16 weeks old they can sometimes be socialized to be friendly towards humans while, after that, it gets increasingly more difficult.

“We give it a try and if they decide they want to be feral we have to respect that and find them a barn home where they can live safely with a caregiver, but live as a feral,” she said.

Dunphy works with the local BCSPCA through her ‘Dee Feral Program’ to have cats fixed and released into barn homes.

“The SPCA doesn’t have the means or the staff to deal with feral cats because they are basically wild,” she said. “It’s not one you can reach in and pet.”

READ MORE: Nearly 60 feral cats caught in one B.C. neighbourhood

She has also built a relationship with Dr. Bianca Scheidt at the Animal Care Hospital in Quesnel.

“When I first started this TNR I went to the vet and they said you have to make an appointment two weeks in advance,” she said, explaining that was a challenge because she didn’t know exactly when a feral cat would pop up in a trap.

“I’d taken one of my own cats to Bianca for an appointment and asked if she worked with feral cats. She said yes, and to just check with her if and when I could drop them off and she’s been absolutely amazing. She’s one of the most important parts of this whole thing and, obviously, we couldn’t do this without her.”

All of the costs associated with trapping, neutering and releasing the animals is now done through collecting donations and turning in bottles. Dunphy said in the past the local SPCA has helped out through a feral grant program, however, funding has discontinued, she said, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Currently, TNR has turned into an almost full-time job for Dunphy.

Through local Facebook pet pages and pining up posters around town, Dunphy is the go-to when anyone discovers feral colonies of cats.

“We’ve recently sent six to barns in Prince George, and we’ve taken cats to Merritt, Williams Lake, 100 Mile House and 108 Mile,” she said.

When asked why she felt the TNR program was worth pursuing, Dunphy said it’s all about the cats.

“It’s about finding money for the vet bills and making sure they’re safe,” she said, noting she currently has 10 cats of her own, plus nine ferals awaiting homes.

“The people I work with are amazing people and we’re all out for the same reason and it’s for the cats. I love their personalities — they’re each so unique.

“With the feral cats, especially the kittens, watching them, then trapping them and seeing them be so scared but knowing the danger they came from and then watching them now purring and loving being pet — that’s just the most rewarding part of it all.”

If anyone would like to notify Dunphy of a feral cat or a feral cat colony they can contact her directly via messenger on Facebook at ‘Dee Dunphy.’



greg.sabatino@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Spectators won’t be able to enjoy Quesnel Kangaroos action like captain Alessio Tomassetti scoring a goal until at least September of 2021. (Sasha Sefter - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Quesnel Kangaroos’ CIHL championship defence on hold

The CIHL has canceled its 2020-21 season due to COVID-19 restrictions

Quesnel council has committed to considering signing on to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to developing and adopting an anti-racism strategy for the city and to conducting anti-racism sensitivity training and improving the knowledge of staff and council regarding local Indigenous culture and history. (City of Quesnel Photo)
Quesnel council commits to developing, adopting anti-racism strategy

Council will also consider signing onto the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Quesnel Search and Rescue has found a missing snowmobiler on Yanks Peak, near Wells. They are being assisted by the Wells RCMP, Wells Snowmobile Club and Central Cariboo and Prince George search and rescue teams. (Quesnel Search and Rescue)
Search and rescue crews locate missing sledder near Wells

Mike Harbek spent the night on Yanks Peak and was located by helicopter Monday afternoon

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)
‘I could still be the one out there’: snowmobiler rescued, 1 still missing near Wells

As Quesnel search and rescue teams investigate Yanks Peak, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

Quesnel Search and Rescue are looking for a missing snowmobiler on Yanks Peak Monday, Nov. 23. They are being assisted by the Wells RCMP, Wells Snowmobile Club and neighbouring search and rescue teams. (Quesnel Search and Rescue)
Search underway for missing snowmobiler out of Wells, Yanks Peak area

Two riders went missing while sledding on Yanks Peak Nov. 22. One is still missing.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

(Pixabay.com)
Man, 28, warned by Kootenay police to stop asking people to marry him

A woman initially reported the incident to police before they discovered others had been popped the question

Winston Blackmore (left) and James Oler (right) were sentenced on separate charges of polygamy this week in Cranbrook Supreme Court.
No more charges expected in Bountiful investigation, special prosecutor says

Special prosecutor says mandate has ended following review of evidence from Bountiful investigations

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

BC Teachers' Federation President Teri Mooring is asking parents of school-aged children to encourage the wearing of masks when possible in schools. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
LETTER: Teachers union encourages culture of mask wearing in B.C. schools

BCTF President Teri Mooring asks parents to talk with children about wearing masks in school

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

Pamela Wright, a UNBC professor in the department of ecosystem science and management, is presented with the Mitacs Award for Exceptional Leadership - Professor, at a virtual ceremony today (Nov. 24) in recognition of her collaborative work with community partners and students to conserve Canada’s northern lands. (Photo submitted by Mitacs)
UNBC professor receives prestigious conservation award

Pamela Wright recognized for leadership in ‘breakthrough’ work on northern issues

(Pixabay)
All dance studios, other indoor group fitness facilities must close amid updated COVID-19 rules

Prior announcement had said everything except spin, HIIT and hot yoga could remain open

Most Read