CANDIA — While conducting routine patrols in the area of several commercial and industrial businesses near Exit 3 off Route 101, several Candia police officers have reported a creepy sight, noting dozens of glowing eyes staring at them through the darkness. The source isn’t monsters, goblins or boogie men. Rather, it’s colonies of stray cats that have inhabited the area, and several other locations in town.
“To my understanding, it’s a recent phenomenon. I’m not sure how long it’s been going on, but it’s really just come to our attention recently,” Candia Police Chief Mike McGillen said.
“A lot of towns say they have a drug problem, but we joke that Candia has a cat problem,” said Laura Masone, president of the Londonderry-based Animal Rescue Veterinary Services (ARVS) board, which has been offering Candia its complimentary services often in recent months. The nonprofit has sent volunteers to Candia to “trap, neuter and release,” known as TNR. Feral felines are scooped up, spayed or neutered, vaccinated, nursed back to health and released where they were found. Kittens and felines maintaining friendly demeanors are kept and sent to animal rescue shelters, Masone said.
“Often times we get calls from property owners or neighbors saying they have strays in their yard and they don’t know what to do,” said Masone. “A lot of times these strays aren’t very friendly anymore, so we can’t just go in and pick them up. We have to use humane traps.” Masone said her organization has recently addressed four or five large colonies in Candia, some with up to 30 felines.
“They’ve done dozens of (TNRs) to help us out here in Candia,” McGillen said. “I certainly support the concept and think it’s a good idea.” In addition to a commercial/industrial area on the west side of town near Auburn, McGillen said his department has received several reports of stray cats in residential and rural areas throughout town. Masone said similar issues exist throughout the state.
“We’ve been all over Southern New Hampshire, from Antrim to Pembroke, Allenstown, Salem, I mean, we’ve pretty much been everywhere,” said Masone, who noted Hooksett is among the areas her organization is called to the most. “We get calls from animal control officers and concerned residents, and often times, by the time they’ve found us, they’ve called everybody else and nobody else is doing this,” she said. “We’re really the only ones in New Hampshire offering this.”
ARVS uses grants and donations to pay for its facility and a full-time veterinarian, who conducts what Masone termed “high volume, high quality spay and neutering.” The rest of the organization is made up of volunteers, including four or five technicians who assist the veterinarian, who performs up to 30 procedures a day.
“The biggest thing we recommend is early spaying and neutering,” Masone said. “The problem is people don’t typically spay or neuter early enough. We recommend before six months of age because females can actually go into heat around five months, so this alleviates a lot of problems like fighting, spraying and unintended or unwanted litters. It’s just better to do it right away.”
ARVS also performs low-cost spaying and neutering for pet owners at its clinic at 194 Rockingham Road in Londonderry. Additional savings options and are available through the New Hampshire Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NHSPCA) Plan B program, which aims to control animal populations. Masone urged anyone who finds stray cats in town to avoid feeding them and to contact the Candia Police Department at 483-2318.
By RYAN O’CONNOR, Union Leader Correspondent
Originally published May 28, 2014 in the Manchester Union Leader.