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November 21, 2013

Thief scoops up all the kitty litter from cat shelter

SALISBURY — It was a close call for the Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society’s 60 or so cats earlier this week when someone made off with the Elm Street shelter’s entire supply of kitty litter over the weekend.

Liz Pease, director of operations at the center, said there were five or six 40-pound bags of wood pellets, which are used as kitty litter, stored in the shelter’s unlocked shed behind the main building over the weekend. When the staff returned Monday, they discovered the bags were gone.

“Luckily, it wasn’t that much,” Pease said.

Pease said it’s possible that the kitty litter was stolen by someone who needed the pellets to warm their home, adding that each bag costs about $6. A 1-ton pallet of wood pellets, which controls odor better than traditional kitty litter, lasts the center about a month.

“I’m sure it obviously has some value to people,” Pease said. “(But) it bummed us out a little bit that they’d steal from the kitties.”

Immediately after the theft, volunteers stopped by with donations and bags of kitty litter allowing, the center to make it through Monday without any accidents. When every penny counts at the not-for-profit shelter, the generosity of the community meant a great deal, Pease said.

In the wake of the theft, Pease said a lock will be placed on the shed and placing surveillance cameras around the property is a possibility.

The no-kill shelter, which first launched in Newburyport before establishing its headquarters in Salisbury, has cared and found homes for hundreds of cats each year. The privately funded organization takes in between 600 and 800 cats a year and averages between 40 and 75 adoptions a month. Its core full-time staff of five is augmented by hundreds of volunteers. The shelter typically spends $400 on each cat, with adoption fees ranging between $125 and $200, offsetting some of the costs, including kitty litter.

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