The winner of the 2015 International/Ceva Cat Welfare award is Brigita Kymantaitė from the Lithuanian charity PIFAS. The award was given out at the Ceva Awards for Animal Welfare 2015 at the Burlington Hotel in Birmingham on April 8.
Brigita trained originally in the police service legal department, but wanted to improve the welfare of animals in Lithuania. She set up PIFAS in 2006.
She came to the UK in 2007 to gain experience and knowledge in animal welfare by working with several different charities and at the same time keeping her charity going at home by phone and email. She and her volunteers also undertook training in veterinary and trapping aspects of TNR – trap, neuter and release – to tackle the large numbers of street and feral cats in Lithuania.
Brigita returned to Lithuania to work full time for PIFAS in 2011 and developed ways of working with others to raise awareness of animal welfare.
Brigita continued to build acceptance of TNR for cats with the local authorities at home and with the veterinary profession in Lithuania. She negotiated provision of rabies vaccination by the government for TNR cats and obtained a law degree to help push through legal and enforcement aspects of animal welfare. Now animal welfare is being included in election manifestos in Lithuania – a huge achievement and change in attitude.
International Cat Care helped with TNR training for veterinary and lay staff for the charity. Brigita now also works with the local veterinary academy which provides a venue and drugs for spay weekends. Other local welfare organisations are also promoting and organising TNR. By creating a fostering unit within the para-veterinary training college Brigita has been able to encourage nurses could gain experience working with cats. Early neutering is now also practised by many vets.
TNR is now officially allowed by Lithuanian animal protection law. It is prohibited to trap ear-tipped cats (the ear tip shows they have been neutered) for municipality animal control. Authorities must give permission for special cat feeding stations for neutered colonies if local people request. She continues to strive for the welfare of animals in Lithuania.
Claire Bessant, chief executive of International Cat Care comments, ‘Brigita’s achievements show what can be done with courage, determination and finding out the best ways to tackle the issues of unowned cats. Learning from others, training and passing on knowledge results in an organised, strategic approach which can be used by governments and local authorities with confidence and can move cat welfare forward considerably. Congratulations Brigita – you have worked so hard at all levels – hands on with trapping, learning for yourself, training others and working strategically with the authorities. An amazing achievement in a short time and a well deserved award.’
Brigita receiving her award on stage
Brigita with her Ceva and International Cat Care awards
Jo Vuckovic, Digital Communications Manager
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Notes to editors:
About International Cat Care (iCatCare)
The International Cat Care vision:
All cats, owned and unowned, are treated with care, compassion and understanding.
The International Cat Care mission:
To engage, educate and empower people throughout the world to improve the health and welfare of cats by sharing advice, training and passion.
About the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM)
ISFM is the veterinary division of International Cat Care. ISFM aims to provide a worldwide resource for veterinarians on feline medicine and surgery.