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Email sparks soul-searching for head of Langley’s no-kill cat shelter

Wouldn’t euthanizing sick and old cats be kinder? No, says CARES president
The CARES shelter has various types of accommation for its cat, including group rooms, secure outdoor runs, and isolation areas for those with medical conditions. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

Carol Briner has seen thousands of cats including countless ones in pretty rough shape.

“We have taken in many cats that people discard as worthless. These animals have been dumped in garbage bins, dumped on farms, left in vacant houses and just plainly abandoned in the street,” she said.

As the president of the Canadian Animal Rescue and Extended Shelter (CARES) Society, she’s also the person who sees some pretty rough comments.

Recently she received an email advocating for CARES to euthanize the sick and elderly cats in its care since they had little hope of adoption and putting them down would be kinder.

She admits the question struck a nerve, and got her thinking about people, about the shelter’s work, and about how pets can be viewed as disposable.

“I cannot image euthanizing an animal, because it no longer fills the expectations of us, humans,” she said.

Pets aren’t there for people’s entertainment but for companionship and love, she said.

“Older cats and discarded cats deserve a chance to live out their lives with dignity,” she said. “There are those who believe cats will only obtain this by living in a home and that a shelter does not provide this.”

The no-kill shelter that has been around for more than two decades works to find permanent homes for hundreds of cats annually, but any cats that aren’t adopted, get to live out the rest of their lives at the shelter, receiving the medical care they need, plenty of love from the volunteers and staff, rooms to play in, and other cat friends.

“Yes, some of the animals will be in a cage, for a while, but the goal is to place each soul in one our our run with other cats, some with outdoor access,” she explained.

Through various means, including social media, the shelter works to find adoptive homes for every cat that comes through the door.

“I must say that a loving home that looks after their pet, by giving it a warm place to sleep, good food and medical attention, is ideal. Unfortunately, this does not always occur. We have had cats given to us that, due to neglect, had to have their eyes removed. Some would have asked ‘Why you would do this? Just euthanize the poor thing.’

“Well, we had to remove Elliot’s eyes, and guess what? He found a foster home with someone who loves him so much that she adopted him,” Briner said.

Most of the cats are in large enclosures with other cats. CARES keeps bonded cats together and tries to get them adopted into the same home.

A few cats must be kept alone in large cages or the separate medical isolation building, due to medical conditions. One of the current resident kitties has feline leukemia which is contagious to other cats. But with care, the cat would have a normal life span. CARES is working to find a home with no other cats and where it would be kept indoors.

The cats and potential owners are screened to try and make the most successful matches. CARES shares what is known about each cat, its history, medical issues, temperament, and preferred home conditions.

“Animals are not put on earth just for our pleasure and use,” Briner said. “They are living creatures, who deserve respect and care.”

The shelter in Milner is always in need of help and donations to carry on its work, holding various fundraisers throughout the year. The non-profit shelter spends more than $100,000 annually on veterinary care for the cats, out of its $217,000 budget.

Right now it is looking for donations of items suitable for an online spring auction, including gift cards that people have received that they just won’t use, or new gifts that just don’t fit the bill. Contact CARES at or stop by 6840 Glover Rd. (enter through the driveway to Moir House, Glover Road at 216th Street. For information contact Donna, 604-308-5992 or Pick-up can be arranged.

Learn more about the shelter at, including opportunities to foster animals, or volunteer.

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Cats that don’t find adoptive homes live at the CARES cat shelter in Milner for the rest of their natural lives. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)
Carol Briner is president of CARES. The no-kill cat shelter provides care and finds homes for hundreds of cats each year. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

Heather Colpitts

About the Author: Heather Colpitts

Since starting in the news industry in 1992, my passion for sharing stories has taken me around Western Canada.
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