By Elisa Black-Taylor
Should cats be allowed to live in nursing homes? I wrote an article on a cat named Oscar awhile back (that article is located here), and this topic has once again been laid on my lap. It concerns the Burquitlam Lions Care Centre (BLCC) located in Coquitlam, British Columbia.
THE SITUATION WITH THE BURQUITLAM CATS
Burquitlam Lions Care Center has a website at www.burquitlamlionscare.com where they list “pet therapy” as part of the treatment offered at the center. The website boasts about the six cats who live in the nursing home, and visitors are encouraged to bring well mannered dogs to visit with the residents. The six cats remaining at this nursing home have been there for quite a few years now. Some even sleep with the elderly residents who love the cats and the companionship the cats provide. The photo I submitted for this article was taken from the Burquitlam Facebook page and was posted in early December.
Unfortunately, the nursing home is under new management, where David Dines, administrator, is allegedly trying to have the cats removed from the home. This is where things get complicated. After hearing about this case, I decided to do a little online investigation on this unfortunate issue.
I located an article on Examiner by Michele Gwynn. Michele has tried on several occasions to obtain a detailed statement from Mr. Dines, who told her “you have been misinformed.” Family members of residents are receiving this same response when they ask whether the cats will be allowed to stay or whether they’ll be kicked out. No other information is available either accusing Dines of trying to force the cats out, or to say this is all one big mistake. Much of the information available comes from resident family members who sat in on administrative meetings concerning the removal of the cats.
CARING FOR THE CATS
These six resident cats all receive free veterinary care, and a cat food company has offered to provide free cat food and cat litter for life. In other words, BLCC won’t have to spend anything for the lifetime care of the cats.
One report I located stated David Dines is saying the cats have to go because they’re sick. Those with family living in the nursing home, who also love to visit with the cats, say the cats are NOT sick at all. The new management is also reported to have removed birds and plants from the nursing home.
SHOULD CAT LIVE IN NURSING HOMES?
It’s already been proven the positive health benefits petting a companion animal provides. Stroking a cat lowers blood pressure, lowers heart rate, and has a calming effect.
The only concerns I can think of as to why cats shouldn’t be in nursing homes would be the risk of a resident on blood thinners being scratched by one of the cats. Or if a resident is allergic to cats. The issue of allergies would be easy to handle by not allowing cats into that particular room.
Keep in mind that many of the residents most likely had a companion cat or dog at home. I don’t know the percentage for BLCC, but most elderly residents are there for life, unless it’s only for short term rehabilitation such as after breaking a hip. Those living in the nursing home for life will never EVER have another chance to love a cat. I think it’s horrible for anyone to take these cats away from the residents who have come to love them.
My own mother lived in a nursing home the last three years of her life. I remember the excitement when she’d look out her bedroom window and see a cat wandering in the flower garden.
Please remember it’s not the family members who are trying to rid the home of the cats. They’re trying to save them. Part of their efforts are in starting the petition below asking BLCC to allow the cats to stay.
HOW YOU CAN HELP SAVE THE CATS
A petition is here.
David Dines, BLCC Administrator, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Perhaps it would be best when contacting Mr. Dines to praise him on the keeping of the cats as cat therapy rather than accusing him of any wrongdoing.
AM I MISSING ANYTHING?
Does anyone have any updated information on the cats at Burquitlam? Comments, anyone? How do the readers feel about allowing cats to live inside the nursing home and sleep with the residents?