Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Lucky Update

My days have been starting earlier and earlier lately.  I think the severe cold in our area have put my head into hibernation mode.  The rescue's voicemail is filled with anxious people that have been feeding strays and needing help for them in these frigid temperatures.  The voicemail always starts with "I've been feeding this stray kitten for the past 6 months and now it's so cold, he needs to come inside."  So frustrating that people wait so long.

A few weeks ago we rescued a pathetic little girl from the "high kill" shelter named "Lucky".
Her mouth was so infected and abscessed from bad teeth that she just laid in her litterbox and drooled.  She couldn't eat.  Looking into her mouth would make you want to cry!  Lucky is cross-eyed and has a severely broken tail.  She was anything but Lucky until we rescued her:

After more than $1000.00 worth of dental surgery you can see the relief in her face.  All she needs is a little princess crown on top of her head.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Recovery Will Be Slow

First, I want to thank everybody for their outpouring of love and support over the loss of our dog "Doug" after the rescue we were volunteering with "Homeward Bound Rescue of Clarington" adopted him to another family despite our vehement objections.  The tragedy goes far deeper than just the loss of Doug.  I've always wondered how couples who have lost a child could turn on each other.  Now I understand.  David and I are blaming each other for the loss of Doug and Homeward Bound just gets to walk away from the mess with an adoption fee in hand.  I haven't slept well since he left and we're all very depressed.

Although I haven't felt much like it, we've still been rescuing.  "Carrying on" hasn't done much for me emotionally, but it's kept me out of the house and away from thinking about my little guy that loved us so much.

We rescued 13 cats the other day from a woman who was trying to be her own rescue and found herself unable to care for the cats properly.  She meant well and the cats were cared for, but having your own rescue isn't just about rescuing a shitload of cats.

Some faces of our more recent rescue:

The fluffy guy above was found with a missing leg and ear.  I can't even imagine what happened to him.  He had to be sedated to shave the matts out. You need money for that kind of rescuing.

Ah...those dear little faces that rely on us to do the right things for them.  I feel like I'm so close to crying all the time and wish it would go away.  I think the best thing I can do now is just to keep moving forward every single day.  I'm sure Homeward Bound Rescue is happy that I'm off their least for now.

I'll continue to rescue, do adoptions and smile.  But I'll be thinking about my "Doug the Pug".  I hope he's ok.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

First Come. First Served.

They took him from me.

David offered to pay the adopter's adoption fee for another dog, plus a donation to the rescue. That wasn't good enough.  A volunteer driver called him and David left a moment ago with Doug.  It's strange, Doug has never turned down a ride in the car.  But when David called  'C'mon Doug!", he ran upstairs to me and jumped into my lap.

I'm devastated.  Heartbroken and my eyes red and puffy from crying.

To add insult to injury, I received the following email from a board member of the rescue pertaining to the blog post I wrote about yesterday.  Again, I'm not verifying the name of the rescue, nor the writer:

Beth I have to say that I am totally disgusted with your behaviour.  How dare you manipulate the situation to make yourself look like a victim. I know that you are a very passionate and opinionated woman, but your selfishness in trying to make yourself look good is just hurting rescue in general. What you are doing is slander and you know it.  You do not have any proof of your intention to adopt and are twisting the situation around.

Perhaps you should mention in your post that you don't have the proof existence of such email exists so it is a more accurate portrayal of the situation.  You seem to have every other email about Doug except the one we have asked for.

I did warn T*** and K***  that you would be a high maintenance foster home, but I never dreamed that it would result in this.  Perhaps I should have realized that you publicly bash everybody and everything when you do not get your own way and should have expected something like this from you.
It's absolutely true.  There is an email "out there" that I no longer have and they said they never received that casually stated our intent to adopt Doug.  They knew I wanted him.  Why didn't they call me to find out for sure?   They're ALL (or were) "friends" with me on  Facebook.  They knew how I felt about him.  

This isn't a sale at Wal-Mart.  The well-being of the animal shouldn't be first come first serve.  

No, I'm not a victim at all.  Doug is the victim.  I can still feel his slobber drying on my cheek as I type this.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

What About Doug?

I've decided that all dog rescuers are completely insane.  How's THAT for a ridiculous generalization?

The dog rescue that we've been with wants to take Doug away from us.  Apparently, they have an adopter interested in him.  I told them a month ago that we wanted to adopt Doug, but since the Foster Coordinator didn't acknowledge the email, they went ahead and put 10+ year old Doug on their website as 6 year old Doug and they don't care about anything but their reputation with the adoption applicant.

The Facebook messaging went something like this:  (Edited for length and to keep the privacy of the moron who I'm messaging.)

Hi Beth,
Hope you are well, I need to have your contact info as we now have a completed application, home visit for Doug.
thank you

I told K*** that we were hoping to adopt him ourselves. He loves us I never heard back from her, and figured we were good.
Uh oh!!! I'm so sorry. What happened to K****? I haven't heard from her in ages. As an administrator of an animal rescue, I drives me crazy when foster parents wait until there's an adopter interested before declaring they want to adopt the pet themselves. I'm so sorry!

K*** is still around. I will be proceeding with the application Beth, I am sorry! What information would you like me to provide to them so they can contact you to set up the meet and greet?

Why is that, T***? Doug is very happy with us and our other dog Sadie.

Beth is looks very bad on us that we have completed the application, home visit etc and then turn around and waste the time and say.. Oh the foster is going to adopt. This is something you would not tolerate from your own rescue. So please let me have your information so I can provide it to the family that is over the moon excited about Doug.

T***y, in our foster home based rescue, our foster parents DO get first pick to adopt. I would NEVER pry a cat away - who is settled and wanted in their foster home. Furthermore, I told K*** quite a while ago via email (right before the dental) that we wanted to adopt.

Well that is your policy. Like I said I am going through with this application, so I can come and pick doug up and do the meet and greet or you can?

(More bullshit messages back and forth - by this time, I'm hysterically sobbing at the computer)

Beth TurnerIn other words, you're willing to pry Doug from a home he loves with people who love him? He sleeps between me and my husband every night. You're more worried about what your potential adopters think of HBR than what's best for the dog? Seriously? are not adopting Doug, I make the decision. And he will be going to another family

Are we unsuitable adopters?

Beth i am really not wishing to argue with you, if you are not going to cooperate with me then I will have no choice then to come and get him and move him asap. We do not expect this kind of behaviour from our foster homes and will not tolerate it.

(Note: At this point, I offer to DOUBLE the adoption fee, she asks for correspondence that I no longer have and calls me a liar.)

Sure, I understand what a pain in the ass it is when a foster parent waits to adopt until an adopter is interested. It happened to me last week! You call the adopter and say sheepishly, "Oops...let me help you choose another cat." The bottom line is, "What is best for the dog?" How many times does Doug have to start over????

At this point, I have no idea what's going to happen. David and I aren't speaking over this, because he always defaults to contractual agreements and I think with my heart. He wants to keep Doug and loves Doug, but he's too Canadian to fight for him.

I, however, am not Canadian and have called a lawyer.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Difficult Rant

(Profanity Alert)
If you're reading this post, it's because I've had the balls to push "Send".   This is a rant about a situation at the "high kill" shelter where we often rescue.  The "high kill"  Pound shares a building with the non-profit SPCA.  It's been this way for years and the SPCA will often come over and pull cats from the pound for their shelter.

I've been rescuing from this city pound for 10 years now.  For 10 years, the  SPCA has been able to come next door and take "first pick" of any cat in the shelter.  For years, they've cherry-picked litters of kittens and left the black ones to die.   The SPCA is no friend of mine.

Two days ago, a litter of 8 kittens were left at a bus stop in a box.  My rescue was  alerted and we went to the city pound and put the kittens "on hold" so that they could finish their stray time, as mandated by the city. A big sign was put on each of their cages that said, "RESCUE CONFIRMED"  with FHCR's name on it.  While we were there, we took a cat that needed more than a $1000.00 worth of dental and two others that nobody else wanted.

My rescue partner and I spent hours sorting through the recent rescue of 17 cats and now incoming 8 unsocialized kittens.  We put out volunteer driver requests to help with moving cats to their proper foster homes and booked vet appointments.  Because these kittens were  "spitty/hissy/cuties", we wanted to insure that they would go to an experienced home who has the time to work with them.

One of our awesome volunteer drivers took took a vacation day from work in order to make the ONE HOUR drive to pick up the 8  kittens and transport them to the vet and prospective foster homes.  She offered to do this as a great favour to me because I was so pressed for time with all the other incoming cats.  We even had another foster parent that would pick up some on her lunch hour from work too.

This morning, after all the T's are crossed and I's are dotted,   I receive an email from a staff member at the shelter I really like:

Hey ladies,

The SPCA has decided to take some of the 8 kittens.  They have first choice so there is nothing I can doL  I told them you had already made arrangements for them so they left some for you…I think there are 2 left.

So sorryL

You can only imagine how I felt when  I received the email.  How can one rescue organization (aka: the SPCA) come in, yank the signs  off the cages and take the kittens that were to be coming to another rescue? 

Before I receive emails about "principles before personalities"  and "it's all about the cats", and "there are no  shortage of cats"...and other similar bullshit.  This post isn't about the cats/kittens rescued today.  I'm happy that they had a place to go and that TWO organizations wanted them.  I certainly wish it could always be that way.  

It's about our VOLUNTEERS.  I value what our volunteers do.  We had foster parents who left for work this morning with spare bedrooms  set up with litterboxes and food in anticipation of their new arrivals.  We  had  a  volunteer that took a fucking VACATION DAY to do transport because *I*  asked her for help!!!!

The SPCA  has PAID employees who walked next door, took down the "Rescue confirmed" signs, took the kittens that I had planned on rescuing for HOURS and said  "Fuck Beth and her volunteers, we need kittens in our shelter."  

I called the Acting Manager of the City Pound who has known me for 10  years.  She  apologized.  She said her hands were tied and that there was nothing that they could do.  Bullshit.  She said they were making positive changes  and to please be patient.  "HUH????  Tell THAT to the army of volunteers I put into place to rescue 8 kittens this morning."  

I lost credibility with my volunteers this morning and wasted  a lot of people's time.  But no more.  I will not be rescuing from this city pound again until the policy of the "all  mighty SPCA is more important than my rescue." is abolished.

With all the paid staff, a six figure $$ paid CEO, Wiggle Wagon truck, in house veterinarian, vet techs, a millions in donations etc., this almighty, fucking organization had 966 cat adoptions in 2013.

I have NO paid staff, a bunch of awesome rockstar volunteers who pay for gasoline, food and litter out of their own pockets and NO SHELTER....and I had 715 adoptions.  

Come get me when you get your head out of your asses.  I'll still be here rescuing the cats that need me.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Rescue Anxiety

Up until yesterday, I wouldn't have been able to tell you if our orange stray that we so diligently tried to rescue was alive.  But 'lo and behold, I received a picture from the people who are watching for him:

Don't get me started on WHY the hell they haven't called or put this guy in their garage.  These people are afraid of fleas and refuse to touch him.  I'm grateful they are still in contact with me, however.  He looks pretty good in this picture, so somebody is feeding him.

Of course, he finally shows up after Shelley and I rescue 17 cats yesterday and are scrambling on veterinary care and foster space.  We left at 10 am and finally got home at 5 pm.  Needless to say, the cats were not all from one location.  I hadn't rescued like that in a long time!!!  I'm such a conservative rescuer by nature, I desperately tried not to have a panic attack as we took a cat with severe dental issues and another big ol' Tom that had been fighting.  Poor guy had abscesses all over his head and massive infections.

When we arrived at the lady's house to pick up one unneutered cat, we discovered she had four cats that needed help.  One was VERY pregnant and due to deliver any day.  She couldn't figure out how that happened since "the unneutered cats only came inside once in a while."  :)  So we loaded 'em all up.

The vet recommended that we viral test the Tom  cat for Feline Leukemia.  Sure...that's easy for her to say.  I don't believe in viral testing for the most part, but I took one look at this big headed tom cat and knew it was the right thing to do.   IF the test was positive, I would lovingly have him euthanized.  He wouldn't be adoptable and the wounds on his head would never properly heal.  I stood staring at the "Snap" test (similar to a pregnancy test) for 10 minutes.  He was negative and I rejoiced!

It was really quite a day.  We were at the high kill shelter, and a nasty smelly drug house - twice and the home of a kind retired lady who was trying to save a few cats but had no money.   I put on a lot of kilometers on the car and at the end of the day my car was filled with empty coffee cups and a couple of muffin wrappers.

I think we were at the vets dropping off cats three different times.  Bless their hearts, the vet managed to get ALL the surgeries and vaccinations done.  Now it's our job to insure they're all moved out of the clinics and into appropriate foster homes.  Piece of cake, right?

Tomorrow?  I'm back at the "high kill" shelter to rescue 8 kittens that were left in a box at a bus stop.

Let the anxiety begin!

Monday, January 06, 2014

Just One.

It's going to be -35 tonight - again.  With gusts of wind 60 kmh - again.  Two days ago, I received a plea for help regarding a domestic cat that had probably been abandoned and he took refuge on a homeowner's back porch:

My heart dropped while the temperature dropped even further and I posted this picture on Facebook.  I didn't know where these people lived and they wouldn't answer their phone.  I could help him.  I was shocked at the number of fellow rescuers from Facebook who sprang into action to try to find where these  people lived.

I called the family this morning at a rude hour to insure I could actually speak with somebody.  Yes, they had seen the cat but they didn't want to touch him because he "might have fleas".  "Fuck.  Seriously?"  But I got their address and was told that I could come to their home to look around.

I grabbed my rescue partner Shelley and we drove into another area of the city where the roads  were sheets of ice.  Anyone with any common sense wouldn't have gone out this morning.  But I kept picturing that chubby orange and white body.  He was somebody's pet at some point.  He wasn't like the other ferals.

The house was a typical cookie cutter with a lovely backyard.  They kept their promise by leaving the gate unlocked for us and we found the chair covered with a quilt and empty.  Apparently, he goes under the fence in the house in the back.  My hands were freezing fast and my ears felt like they  were going to snap off, but Shelley climbed on top of a milk crate and peeped over the fence.

He could be anywhere.

We called "Kitty Kitty" as our lips froze.  The family had bought a live trap, but I was certain that they didn't have the common sense to check the damn thing and I knew our boy would freeze to death tonight.

My heart hurts tonight and this story doesn't have the ending I had hoped.  I hear the wind whistling through our old Victorian house and "my boy" is still out there somewhere.  I won't sleep well and I'm leaving for Seattle tomorrow to visit my parents.  Sure, there are lots of cats that have no homes and are cold tonight. Many won't survive tonight.  But there was something about this one and I wanted to save his life.

I'll be thinking about this poor soul tonight.  I'll be thinking about all of them.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Happy New Year!

I don't think I've ever felt it so cold before.  We're in a deep freeze in the Toronto area and instead of snuggling with my sweetie by the fire I have found myself very depressed thinking about the abandoned domestic animals who are outside and have no escape.  I received a call last night from a woman who went out and rescued a "shivering, skinny cat" who was living under a loading dock.  I guess that was the trigger for me and I felt so helpless for them all.

Yesterday, we moved into our new Petsmart location.  The staff was great and it was sort of  like playing house as we set up in the new store.  This particular store is only about 10 minutes from my house, so that's going to be helpful in the event of emergencies, etc.  The exciting part was we already had TWO adoptions while we were there setting up!   Fingers are crossed that this is a good location for us.

I received some feedback from my last post regarding the "rescuer" who threatened to euthanize cats with ringworm unless she received some help.  As I said in that post, I realize I'm very critical of other rescues mainly due to the fact that I don't want to end up in similar situations.  I take mental notes of other's mistakes and try not to repeat them.  Of course, some things are unavoidable.

 I'm in agreement with several large local Humane Societies that private rescues like mine and others should have some kind of accountability and inspection.  There are people out there calling themselves "rescues" that should never  be running a rescue.  I'm not talking about a single person trapping cats, spay/neuter and releasing them - or finding homes.  I'm talking about people with a rescue "name on the door".  They have no fiscal responsibility to themselves or others.  They rescue cats and hope for the best!  They mean well and are usually very caring people, but many live in horrible conditions with many cats.  It's been my experience that they have a certain local following and supporters, but mainly because they don't turn people down who want to dump or rescue cats.  

 I can tell you that I miscounted our stats for 2013 - we had 715 adoptions - not the 600 that I previously reported.    So much for my mathematical wizardry!   So here we are - 2014.  What will the year bring?   I suppose it will bring the usual life's ups and downs.

But is it too much to ask for more ups than downs?  :)