Tuesday, February 02, 2010

What I Know

I'm so surprised and delighted to receive so many emails, comments in support of figuring out a better way to get the cats out of the shelter. There were many questions about the shelter where I rescue, so I thought I'd answer them here. Rather than pretending that I have all the answers, this is information that *I know*.

1. Animal Control (where I rescue) is a city run pound. They cannot refuse to take in animals because the shelter is too full. Euthanasia is necessary at this point in time.

2. Animal Control shares a building with the SPCA. The SPCA has a beautiful adoption room where they adopt cats and dogs. Their price list to adopt a cat or kitten is as follows:

Cat $220.00
Kitten $240.00 under 6 months

3. The SPCA does take cats from Animal Control. It's been my experience that the majority of cats they take are "highly adoptable". The SPCA gets "first pick" over any rescue that comes in. It's been my experience that they "cherry pick" cats and will take all the orange kittens from a litter and leave the black ones to be euthanized.
The SPCA also takes "owner surrenders", which means this takes a spot from a cat over in Animal Control.
I don't know the numbers, but the SPCA takes a small fraction of cats from Animal Control

4. The SPCA does not euthanize animals due to overcrowding. When the SPCA is full, they send people who want to surrender their beloved pets to Animal Control.

**For those of you who wanted to know why Animal Control doesn't have a formal adoption program:

5. At some point, Animal Control signed a "Non-compete agreement" with SPCA and agreed that they will NOT permit adoptions so that ALL adoptions will be going through SPCA. (I hope I phrased that properly)

6. Until rescues came along, ALL the cats were euthanized, except the ones that were claimed by their owner. There was no way out for these animals.

7. Animal Control used to have a little adoption centre, but it closed due to lack of funds. I wish I knew more about this. I remember the centre, because I was rescuing then. But it never occurred to me that this was something special - I was just starting out.

8. Yes, other rescues do help Animal Control - but very few and those that do, only take 1 or 2 cats at a time. Many the rescues were troubled by the high cost of veterinary care due to sickness in the shelter.

9. It's a privilege to be rescuing from Animal Control. They do NOT have to let me or any other rescue in to take cats. It's one of the reasons why I'm against "kicking political ass." My presence there is VERY optional.
There is NO cost for me to take a cat from the shelter. In fact, the staff are often kind enough to vaccinate, deworm, and flea treat before I rescue a cat in order to save the rescue money.

10. There is one paid employee in the shelter that promotes the cats on a Petfinder website. When adoption calls come in for these cats, she refers them to me to be screened. If all goes well, the adopter is permitted to adopt the cat without cost. Because the cats are not vetted and are often not already spayed or neutered, I will get vet references to insure that this will be done.

11. Animal Control is required to keep stray cats for THREE DAYS before they can either be taken by a rescue, SPCA, or euthanized. This does not apply to owner surrendered cats. They can be euthanized immediately or rescued.

I don't have all the answers to all the questions. I do know that I guard my reputation and presence at the shelter carefully. I've received some emails that folks think I'm finished rescuing - NOT true!

In fact, I'm trying really hard to figure out a way to rescue more. :)

Take a look at the picture that I use in my title "House of the Discarded". I've saved that picture for 2 years. Those beautiful kittens were euthanized at Animal Control and I couldn't save them. I've kept the picture to remind myself why I do what I do.


Anonymous said...

My vet in Kitchener had the best poster promoting spay/neuter for cats. It was a basket of five kittens- all super cute. Underneath the caption read something like "have a pick of the litter. The rest won't live past 2". Then there were the compelling reasons to spay/neuter (overpopulation, disease, etc)

House of the Discarded said...

Anonymous: Awesome!!! I would love to have a picture of that poster!

Nicole Divitcoff said...

We love you beth! From all the cats from the past, present and future you are our guardian angels! We love you forever!

NoviceLife said...

Ugh Beth - I deal with rescue of horses....and cats.....and dogs EVERY DAY and for some reason, your comment about the picture in your banner really strung a cord with me. I have a lump in my throath, a pit in my stomach and tears in my eyes............

Fred said...

I wish I didn't know that the kittens in the photo were euth'd. I know it happens all the time but every time I see an actual photo of some shelter animal which has been euth'd for no good reason, it always does me in.

Is that non-compete clause because the SPCA and AC share the same building or because they are in the same city? If one of the agencies left the building, would it allow both to start adopting out again? I actually don't even understand what they are competing over. Isn't the point to save animal lives? And in that regard, maybe a little competition would be good.

Anonymous said...

Wish more people knew about this. When I tell people my cat is from a shelter they assume it is SPCA. I am very quick to point out the differences. People tend to think SPCA are somehow better because they do not euthanize...well, not DIRECTLY, they don't!!! Has to all trickle down somewhere, right? While SPCA sucks in funds from public to make their cushy little happy place just that, animal control sits freezing and dark. I will never forget my trip to Hamilton. I had to park on the SPCA side and walk to the shelter because the lot was so full. Families were shouting joyously outside of the SPCA, and there were cute pictures everywhere, and once I FOUND the door to the shelter it was cold, and I realized the differences and why. I learned because Beth opened my eyes to this world. More people need to know about it. We are doing "Dress down for the SPCA" at work. I think I'll remember the place that REALLY needs help and make a donation to a local shelter instead. They have to take the bad rap so the good guys can keep looking good.

Anonymous said...

Ok. You have done an excellent job of outlining the background. The one important fact missing is the route cause of the over-population and that is controlling the population by spaying or neutering.
The risk of continuing doing what you are doing and that is rescuing cats is that things will never change. There will always be cats euthanized etc. The real area that you can add value is nipping the problem at the front end by organizing low cost spay neuter options. That is the real value added to this situation and could very well be a partnership role with Animal control.
You can make changes that will impact and help resolve the euthanization problem. It will take work and of course there will always be ups and downs but if you have the commitment to see the change through it will happen

House of the Discarded said...

Fred: If AC had it's own building, they would be able to provide adoptions - at least that's my understanding.

I agree - what's wrong with a little friendly competition? :)

RHz said...

They seriously charge that much for cat adoption fees? No wonder so many are being put down!
We've been hit hard here, too, and our adoption fees are $90 for an adult cat and $115 for kittens. Sometimes, they'll even offer a 2 for $100 adoption special. (I still don't understand why dogs are way more?)

Is there any way to get some of the cats and put them up in pet feed stores, vets offices and places like PetsMart? We've had success with several adoptions that way.

I am glad, however, to hear you're still in this...

Caroline said...

What a selection this animal control has:
2 declawed cats
2 Himalyans
3 moms that could be fostered until the babies are grown
and a few that are already neutered.

These cats would be a bargain for anyone and would surely be gone if the AC was open for adoptions.

Jeers to the SPCA for the non competition agreement.

Laura HP said...

Whoa those are high adoption prices. TAS adopts out cats for $100, sometimes less. I don't understand the 'non-compete' thing - why would they not want competition? The whole point is to adopt out more animals. That doesn't make any sense.
Thank you for explaining this stuff, Beth! It certainly makes what you do all the more important. I hope you can help improve the system somehow!