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Kitties, canines and beavers, oh my!

Marjorie Hervey has been dubbed the Mother Theresa of cats and she doesn’t mince words about the crappy care many humans dish out to felines.
Toby isn’t your typical Chesapeake Bay retriever. The former furry friend with behavioural problems is now a therapeutic dog at Alberta Hospital and the success story
Toby isn’t your typical Chesapeake Bay retriever. The former furry friend with behavioural problems is now a therapeutic dog at Alberta Hospital and the success story behind the book The Toby Way to a Pawsome 2011. He’s a star guest at this year’s Pet Expo.

Marjorie Hervey has been dubbed the Mother Theresa of cats and she doesn’t mince words about the crappy care many humans dish out to felines.

With 2011 branded as The Year of the Cat, the founder and president of the Stony Plain-based Hervey Foundation for Cats unsheathes her own claws.

Passionately devoted to the 75 furry purr-boxes at the Hervey cat sanctuary, she is plainly disgusted by people’s attitudes and conduct towards cats.

“We live in a ‘me’ society. It horrifies me that people are so self-centred,” she says. “Whenever we have a lifestyle change they’re thrown out like garbage. They’re as intelligent as dogs, but they’re treated differently. If there’s a divorce or a move to another province, they’re left in apartments with no food or tossed in ditches to become coyote bait.

“People think cats are independent. But they are like dogs. Take Fluffy from home and drop her in the street and if you expect her to survive it won’t happen. As a society we are judged by how we care for our animals and we are not doing a very good job.”

At the sanctuary, a refuge for old, injured, unwanted, homeless and abused cats, Hervey has seen her share of misery.

There’s Wylie, a grey-haired short hair abandoned on a Spruce Grove acreage and mauled by a coyote looking for a meal. Maize came in as a six-week kitten with one eye gouged out. A fan belt badly injured Liam while he was keeping warm under the hood of a car. Pedro was found in a dumpster after a car hit him. Pumpkin ingested a caustic substance and was ill for months while Charlotte, a badly abused cat, was abandoned in a cardboard crate at a veterinary clinic. The list goes on and on.

Both compassionate and feisty, Hervey regularly distributes a newsletter through her foundation. To increase awareness about puss’s plight, her foundation will be one of the rescue societies highlighted at the Edmonton Pet Expo running this weekend at Northlands Expo Centre.

“What I want to do is give cats a voice. I want to encourage people to license their cats, spay and neuter them and microchip them. People may not be aware of this, but if they are licensed and micro-chipped, cats are held in a shelter longer to give owners time to find them or for the shelter to find the owners.”

Louise Reinich has produced the annual Pet Expo event for 10 years. During that time visitors have doubled to 20,000. “My aim is to touch on the environment and to gather like-minded people who truly believed in responsible pet ownership and share information.”

This year, in addition to highlighting cats as the forgotten animals, she’s brought in numerous exhibitors, retailers, rescue societies, charities and service organizations. Dogs, rabbits, ferrets, parrots, amphibians, reptiles and even an urban coyote project are in the spotlight.

Reinich is particularly excited about the Edmonton Urban Coyote project.

“They will have an interactive display. This project was developed by Colleen Cassidy St. Clair at the university. She’s collared coyotes and is tracking them in the city to see which areas they inhabit.”

But it’s predicted the weekend’s attention hogs will be GusGus the beaver, a resident of Innisfail’s Discovery Wildlife Park. The furry wonder rocketed to stardom in an Energizer TV commercial.

The second star is Toby, a Chesapeake Bay retriever whose holy-terror antics are the meat of a book, The Toby Way to a Pawsome 2011. “Toby is a fascinating story of a dog who had behaviour problems and issues. His owners had the wisdom to get him into a working program and now he’s a therapeutic dog at Alberta Hospital. His story is going to be made into a movie On Toby’s Terms,” Reinich explains.

But Toby is more than a draw for the public. “We’re trying to educate people that the personality of the family needs to match the right dog. If you have a border collie that needs a lot of exercise with a family that likes to watch TV, you have conflict and that leads to problems.”

For a dash of high-flying family fun there’s also a non-stop round of featured shows. The Spectrum Speed Dogs jump into agility demonstrations. In Schutzhund, dogs manoeuvre around barriers to complete a triathlon for working dogs, and the flyball team of Bark’n Mad explodes into furiously paced action.

The Edmonton Humane Society is on hand to correct some misconceptions about pit bulls, a muscular dog that appears intimidating but is actually ill-suited as an attack dog.

“The pit bull is a lovely dog that is naturally fond of people, but requires a different kind of dog training. A lot of people think they are good guard dogs, but they are more naturally comfortable with people.”

As well as the Hervey Foundation, a second featured charity is Spruce Grove’s Animal Cancer Therapy Subsidization Society. Operated by Dr. Jennifer Stelfox, this non-profit organization provides subsidies to families for veterinary cancer treatment.

“I can’t say enough about Jennifer. She’s extended the life of many pets that would have been put down and bought time for both the pets and their owner. She will be here increase awareness and talk about new treatments.”

Numerous organizations from the Edmonton Area Reptile and Amphibian Society, the Alberta Ferret Society and Edmonton Parrot Association to the Edmonton Area Rabbit Society, Sundance Canine Rescue and St. Albert’s Paradise Pets are out to spread the word, too. Many will bring a few demonstration pets.

However, the Rescue 100 Horses Foundation, who had its beginnings rescuing 100 starving Arabians, and Hearts and Hooves, a charity that rescues and heals miniature horses, will set up a booth minus the animals. “They’re both remarkable. Hearts and Hooves even potty trains the mini horses and takes them to senior homes.”

Reinich is excited about the Edmonton area’s pet community coming together. “Our primary reason for being here is so you can come and enjoy the animals and that includes hearing some of the hopeful stories about them.”

Pet Expo runs Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission at the door is $10, children five to 11 years $8 and under five is free. A family pass is $25. For more formation visit The Hervey Foundation has a comprehensive website at

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