Tuesday, October 29, 2013

So You Want Your Own Rescue?

Before I write any further, I wanted to thank everyone that commented or sent me private emails pertaining to my concerns and fears for my son.  If you missed it, you can read about it here.  I've read him many of your supportive comments and emails.  Many of you shared some pretty private stuff.  So far, he's doing ok and remains with us and out of contact with his abusive girlfriend.

Can't I just go back to buying Ninja Turtle stuff and Pokemon cards?  I miss those days.

It was a rough day.  Our "Melvin" passed away.  You can read about him here.  I always grieve for every loss of little life.  But it's been a while since I sobbed after authorizing his euthanasia this afternoon.  Losing Melvin really hurt.  I guess I put myself too far out on an emotional limb.  Maybe I've just been too stressed. Who knows?  But if you had met Melvin, you would've loved him too.  His vet bills will be in the thousands of dollars.  Ugh :(

Lately, there's been lots of talk on social media sites about several "rescues" that shouldn't be calling themselves "rescues".  Some people are starting a rescue of their own.  But you need more than just a name to start a rescue.

Let me tell you what you're buying into:

1.  You'll be financially and emotionally responsible for EVERY cat and EVERY volunteer in your organization.

2.  You'll need to be available 7 days per week and 24 hours per day.

3.  Looking for volunteers?  Good luck with that - so is every animal rescue organization.  What makes you think you're so special?

4.  YOU will be the only one that can say, "Yes, I authorize the euthanasia."  and accept the consequences of those actions.  You'll have to deal with your own grief and those of the volunteer that has loved him.

5.  After you've spent THOUSANDS of dollars on a kitten that has died anyway, you'll have to sit and wonder if you made the right decision.  Think of the cats you could've saved with that money!

6.  Then you realize:  He was worth every penny.

7.  People will get angry with you.  They'll adopt a wonderful, healthy cat who will get sick two weeks after adoption and they'll blame you.  They'll want their money back.  They'll want to give back the cat.  They'll threaten to tell all their friends how shitty YOUR rescue is, and it'll be your job to professionally choke back what you REALLY want to say and give them their money back so you can bring back the cat into your rescue and away from those assholes who shouldn't have adopted him anyway.

8.  You'll need money.  LOTS of money.  Money for spays and neuters, vaccinations, deworming, and vet exams.  There will be worried foster parents that will call you at 2 am about a limping kitten and x-rays that will be needed.  There will be "Melvins" that cost thousands of $$'s and you can't say that you don't have the money to treat him.  The cat AND the volunteer that loves him are counting on YOU to make sound financial decisions for the rescue to insure that there is always enough money for emergencies.

9.  Of course, you'll want your adoption fee to include the spay or neuter surgery.  If you're a legitimate rescue and are concerned about cat overpopulation, you'll insist on it.  Who is going to pay the vets?

10.  Ah yes.  Our hardworking veterinarians!  They deserve to get paid on time.  How quickly your bills will add up!!  It's always more than you think it's going to be.  Our rescue has 22 affiliated veterinarians to insure that ALL of our volunteers and adopters have a clinic nearby.

11.   Your family won't be happy because the calls will come in during movies, dinners, and family events.  They'll glare at you as it rings....AGAIN.    You can turn off your cell phone, but you know it'll be ringing and the voicemails will be waiting for you.  Your heart will always be thinking about who might be calling.

12.  Bookkeeping.  Yes, Revenue Canada (Canadian IRS) will want to know what you're doing.  Even if you're not a Registered Canadian Charity, you'll still have to keep track of your accounts.  Don't know the difference between a credit and a debit?  That's a shame.  Find somebody who does.

13.  How will all these cats that you're rescuing get adopted?  Sure, you want to help them all.  People will constantly call you.  You'll have to learn to say "no".  Your heart will hurt when they ask you to rescue a black cat and you already have 20 in your program.  Foster parents will wonder why THEIR foster cat hasn't been adopted.

14.  Think this isn't a business?  Think again.

15.  Just as you think things are organized and you have a moment to breathe, one of your foster parents will need a break and a cat will need to be moved, or an adopted cat is being returned because it's pee'ing on the couch.  Of course, the adopter didn't get the urine tested!  You'll have to pay for that when the cat comes back!

Believe me - I've barely scratched the surface.  I'm sure those who are reading could add to this list - please do!!!  

Negative post tonight?  Maybe.  But don't let it fool you - Cat rescue has been by far the most rewarding thing I've ever done with my life.  I love the people that I work with and I wake up each day wondering who will be adopted and who I can help.  I'm frustrated, frightened and my anxiety is always peaked.  But I wouldn't trade my life for anything.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Different Blog Post

The urgent calls for abandoned kittens and pregnant Mom cats have now been replaced with calls about young cats (probably born in spring) that are outside for the upcoming winter.  It's a never ending cycle that keeps me constantly on edge.  Each day I look at the weather and am  grateful for the momentary lapse in frigid weather.

I don't really have anything controversial to write about today.  I've started to write about the several local "rescues" who have turned out to be hoarders and one in particular who continues to dodge the authorities.  Sometimes I'm in the mood to argue a point and other times...well...I feel too beaten up to do it.

My 25 year old son fled his apartment where he lived with his girlfriend and 2 cats the other night.   He showed up at our door at 7 am with 2 cats and all of his belongings.  We knew that the girl was abusive and my son was "battered".  But he wouldn't leave her and despite numerous attempts and begging from us he'd go back.  He came home bruised and a bone broken in his foot where she stomped on it.   Apparently, he woke up in the middle of the night with a knife to his throat.  Police were called and she was taken away - ANOTHER 3 day psych watch where she leaves only to return the same pathetic mentally ill human being.

So why am I writing about this?  My sons cats were our cats.   They used to live with us.  They have observed the abuse and I can say that they seem different.  Sure, they're worried about a new environment.  But you can tell that they seem happier in a happier home with peace.  They have stuck to my son like glue - sitting on his bed and running to him when he comes through the door after work.  Since my son was always going back to the crazy girl, I was terrified that she would do something to the cats too.  They were innocent and frightened of the yelling, screaming and throwing things.

Now there are 2 more cats in our house and the games for dominance begins.  I'm already stressed, so the hissing, growling and usual cat-crappiness isn't helping.   We're trying to help our son and once again, begging him to consider counseling and praying he doesn't return to her.  He's  handsome, smart and adores cats....you'd think that the world of women would be his, wouldn't you?  A guy like that should never have to settle for someone like that.  But it appears to be textbook.  Men.  Women.  It doesn't seem to matter.

Writing about this is really helping me today.  If I can't save my son from going back, I'm going to save his cats and make sure they remain with me.  Each day that he doesn't go back is a victory - for him, for us and his two cats.  Maybe this time he can do it.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Catching Up

Whenever I haven't blogged in a week, you can bet that I'm in over my head.  That seems to be the case and I'm not the only one scrambling.  The high kill shelter is full, our foster parents homes are full and the phone is still ringing.

Whenever I publicly post that we had a successful adoption event, my phone suddenly starts ringing with strays, owner surrenders and calls from the shelters.  Last Thursday, we had a "Black Cat and Black Kitten Adoption Event".  That included black and white cats too.  It was only a FIVE hour event and the rescue took quite a loss by allowing these loving, overlooked cats at a $75.00 adoption fee which included surgeries, vaccinations, etc, etc.  

Ironically, 13 were adopted (out of 20 cats there)!  I'll do it again - it was terrific, and no way was I worried about the ridiculous old wives tale about people doing terrible things to black cats and not to adopt them in October.  I'm sure it has happened - but I doubt the satanic folks are going to pay an adoption fee for a black cat.  I think the best part was that EVERY ADOPTER had planned on coming to the event.  Nobody came and tried to adopt on the spur of the moment.  Fabulous!

I was at the "high kill shelter" yesterday and had planned on rescuing 4 cats.  My rescue partner and I walked out with 12.  Not surprised?  :)  This morning is the euthanasia day and the tech walked the cages with us.  It's very sobering and I don't handle it as well as I used to.  I found my shoulders slumping lower and lower as I saw all the little faces and no space for them all.  

We rescued a cat that had come into the shelter with a tail so severely burned that it had to be amputated.  This shelter gets a VERY bad rap from The Crazy Protesters and those that don't understand, but this shelter paid for this guy to have surgery AND neuter him for us:

 We named him "Bob". He REALLY wanted out of the shelter. I've never met such a muscular cat! Loved him!

Every once in a while, I feel like I need to sit down and reconnect with the foster parents.  Not-so-ironically, I feel this way after kitten season slows down.  I think our volunteers understand that there are some days where I wake up, start returning calls from our adoption phones and never stop until 9 pm.  Even then, I'm still answering emails past 9.  Yesterday was one of those days and today will be too.

THEN...there is "Melvin".  Melvin was found in a ravine.  He had 200+ fleas on him, he was blind, and has a huge neurological deficit.  His well-meaning finder had him for 48 hours without money to give him proper care.  He was almost dead by the time I brought him to the vet.

I won't need Halloween to scare me - Our vet bill for this guy will probably do the trick.

 But look how CUTE he is! I'm terrified that the person who has offered to take him will renege. I don't know what I'm going to do with him if she does.

I'm juggling cats today and know that I'm not alone.  There are a lot of us out there juggling cats and doing our best within our means.  Where's a B12 shot when I need one?

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Get Hurt Trying

I've been struggling the past week.  We've had kittens die from recalled Iams food.  How can you console a loving foster parent that she inadvertently gave cat food that killed 3 of her kittens?   We can go into the legal ramifications of the company that poisoned the cats...yada....yada...yada.  There were no vet bills to be reimbursed.  The kittens vomited once and died within 20 minutes.  No other symptoms.  I don't want to talk about food recalls in this post.  I'm just too pissed to have an intelligent conversation about it.  

I'm sure I'll hear from lots of caring rescuers asking if it was Distemper....blah blah blah...no, it wasn't.  It was the food...on a recalled cat food list that came out yesterday.

Last night, I offered to help a black kitten that was found in a ravine.  He is about 8 weeks old, starving, dehydrated, etc.  I picked him up this morning (from a friend of the finder) and found that he was almost dead.  The fleas were jumping off his tiny body and his gums were white with anemia and dehydration.  He was  starting to have seizures as I quickly wrapped his tiny body in the towel and jumped in my car.

I don't remember driving to the vets.  I remember being flipped off by another car and almost running over a Mom and child in the crosswalk as I sailed through far too quickly.  The vet wanted to euthanize the little guy, but I really wanted to TRY.  That's all I wanted....just to TRY.  Damnit, he survived in the wild and he deserved for a rescue to try to save his life.  The managed to get an IV into his dehydrated vein, and treated him for hundreds of fleas that were slowly killing him. As I type this blog post, he's still alive.

All we can do is try, right?  Both of the people that I'm talking about - our wonderful foster Mom and the woman that kept the black kitten last night TRIED.  I get sick of hearing people whining about "Ooo, I could never foster, because I'd get too attached."  Well...shit.  Get hurt TRYING.