The City of Richmond is considering changing their bylaws to prohibit dumping animals in the wild after a series of troubling incidents that left discarded pets struggling to survive.

Last month, berry pickers along Shell Road heard an animal wailing for help and found a starving white cat trapped in a carrier.

Helen Savkovic from the Richmond Animal Shelter said the cat was left there for several days judging by the amount of urine and moulded feces in the cage.

“It had been there quite a few days,” she said. “He was in bad shape, dehydrated, he was starving, and then he also developed this infection on his skin…. likely from being in his own excrement for so long.”

The cat – named Coconut by shelter staff – is doing much better a month later, but a big scar on his side remains from undergoing life-saving surgery.

Savkovic said they see a lot of animal abandonments and she encourages people who can no longer care for their animals to bring them to shelters instead of leaving them to die in the wild.

“People feel guilty about bringing them to a shelter, but sometimes the right thing to do isn’t the easy thing to do,” she said. “Certainly the right thing to do isn’t leaving it in a carrier where the animal is slowly going to starve to death.”

Another animal at the shelter was also recently abandoned by its owner.

A tiny Yorkshire terrier named Mouse was left in a Richmond hotel lobby with a note that said “take me home.”

Instead of taking the dog to a shelter the hotel manager gave the dog to an employee who hurt her while trying to cut its hair.

Jessica Franco from the Richmond Animal Shelter said the dog had a broken leg that hadn’t been treated for months.

“I just can’t believe it. I don’t know how someone could do that to an animal and just leave them there. It’s terrible. She’s so cute, little and innocent,” Franco said.

Franco said shelter staff suspects the dog was abused by her past owners.

She said many people who get pets don’t realize how big a commitment it is.

“They just don’t realize what goes into caring for an animal and when the animal is not potty trained or does something wrong they just give it up.”

Franco said shelter staff never scrutinizes people who bring pets to them and they are a no kill shelter.

Although Coconut and Mouse have been through terrible ordeals, they are expected to make a full recovery, and their cases may save other pets from being harmed in the future if Richmond amends their bylaw to prohibit animal dumping.

Dumping animals is already illegal in B.C. under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, but the city says updating local bylaws would give enforcement officers more power to combat the problem.