The Necessity of Feline Rescue – The Facts
It is an incredibly sad reality that millions of healthy cats and dogs are needlessly killed in shelters throughout the United States annually. Nathan Winograd of the No Kill Advocacy Center states on his website (www.nathanwinograd.com), “We have the power to build a new consensus, which rejects killing as a method for achieving results. And we can look forward to a time when the wholesale slaughter of animals in shelters is viewed as a cruel aberration of the past. We have a choice. We can fully, completely, and without reservation embrace No Kill as our future. Or we can continue to legitimize the two-pronged strategy of failure: adopt a few and kill the rest. It is a choice which history has thrown upon us. We are the generation that questioned the killing. We are the generation that has discovered how to stop it. Will we be the generation that does? Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. We can be that great generation." It is possible to create No Kill Communities across the globe, but it will take great leadership, compassion, and a strong knowledge and effort to implement the necessary programs, to achieve this goal. With an estimated four million dogs and cats being killed in our country’s shelters annually, yet every year twenty-three and a half million American’s bring a new pet into their home… It’s simple math- pet overpopulation is a myth.
In the United States, most county pounds and shelters are killing an average of fifty-percent of the healthy, adoptable pets who enter their doors. Fifty-percent! Greene County Animal Control in Xenia, OH has a current average kill rate around eighty-percent, as of March 2012. Unbelievable! Why aren’t these pets being given an opportunity to live? Why is killing the only answer in the eyes of shelter and pound directors across the country?
The mandatory programs and services that shelters/pounds must implement in order to become No Kill Communities, include (www.nokilladvocacycenter.org):
2.High-Volume, Low-Cost Spay/Neuter
5.Comprehensive Adoption Programs
7.Medical and Behavior Prevention & Rehabilitation
8.Public Relations/Community Involvement
11.A Compassionate Director
Every element of the No Kill Equation must be implemented successfully in order to foster a true No Kill environment. Take a look at the items on the above list- does your shelter implement any of these programs/services? How can you work with them to help implement the programs/services that are not yet being utilized by your local shelter? Do you know others who are interested in volunteering? Have you considered the possibility of fostering a shelter pet? Do you know individuals who are interested in helping with a TNR Program?
If you’re an individual or a rescue organization or shelter worker/volunteer and you are interested in learning more in regards to building a No Kill Community in your local area, consider attending the 2012 National No Kill Conference. The 2012 Conference will be held in Washington D.C. the weekend of August 11-12. For additional details on the conference, please visit: www.nokillconference.org
Did You Know?
With the need of no-kill feline rescue organizations and centers being so great- what benefits do the cats and adopters receive from rescue organizations? Great question! Rescue organizations provide spay/neuter, vaccinations, FIV and FeLv testing, general health exams and any additional necessary veterinary care, prior to adoption. The cost savings to the adopters is huge! With the average feline spay/neuter surgery costing $200+- adopting a kitten or cat that is already spayed/neutered from the rescue organization will save you big bucks! In addition, rescue professionals help potential adopters choose the cat that is best for their household and lifestyle. Rescue organizations typically operate with volunteer foster homes, therefore they are able to get to know each cat very well, prior to adoption. This means that the adopters are able to seek out the cat that best fits their personality and lifestyle, and the cats are able to find loving, forever homes that best fit their desires and needs. For example, a cat that is shy and prefers a quiet home will be adopted into a calm home that prefers a calm kitty who likes to sit on their laps and be petted. On the other paw, an energetic kitten who loves to play, play, play- will be adopted into an active home that enjoys playing and having lots of fun.
Amy Beatty, Co-Founder of Advocates 4 Animals, Inc. shared, “We love adoptions for so many reasons. That is why we do what we do- to get the animals adopted into forever homes! Every time a pet is adopted from A4A and the family/individual has a successful experience with adoption- they will tell their family and friends- who may then opt to adopt a cat into their own home(s). Even if they live in another part of the country and are not adopting a pet directly from A4A, our goal is to advocate pet adoption everywhere- from other rescues and from shelters. We want people to know how great rescue pets are.” Another benefit of adopting your next cat from a rescue organization is the assistance and education they provide to adopters on the introduction and transition of cats entering their forever homes. Rescue professionals know any personality quirks that may have surfaced during the cat’s time in foster care and they also are able to educate first time cat owners on issues such as where to place the litter box, what type of food to purchase, recommendations on the best veterinarians in the area, etc. If the home has additional pets- rescue professionals can provide information and tips on what to expect during the transition phase- in terms of behavior. You can never underestimate the importance of education and information! The need for feline rescue and adoption is tremendous. By adopting a feline from your local shelter or rescue organization, you are saving the life of a feline in need. In addition to saving the life of your adopted feline, you are also saving the life of a second feline- as a space opens up in that shelter or rescue for another cat in need to be saved.
Rescuing Cats and Kittens for the Purpose of Adoption
Advocates 4 Animals, Inc. is a 501c3 non-profit, all-volunteer organization. “We are small but mighty.” A4A has a mission to “provide education, guidance and resources to our local community- on animal rights/welfare issues, rescue/rehabilitation advice and resources, low cost spay/neuter options/education, TNR (Trap/Neuter/Release), the No Kill Movement and many other important animal welfare issues. We work to educate, inspire and enhance shelter programs- to give them the tools, resources and education needed to become true No Kill shelters. We work tirelessly to promote No Kill communities and we expose the truths about high-kill county pounds and shelters, in an effort to involve the public in the movement to becoming true No Kill, compassionate communities.” In addition to advocacy, A4A operates a small network of volunteer foster homes throughout their local community- for the purpose of rescuing pets from death row lists in local shelters, providing them with rehabilitation (physical, social and emotional) and ultimately for each one to be adopted into loving, forever homes to call their very own. Mondo is one of thousands of felines who have been lucky enough to be saved by A4A from death row, just in time. Mondo had been severely tortured and badly burned on his face and paws before being captured and turned into a Kentucky kill shelter.
I was lucky enough to foster Mondo in my personal home during his time with Advocates 4 Animals, Inc. When Mondo first arrived, he was terrified- and rightly so! He had a private room all to himself which included two new cat climbers, a scratching post, a cozy chair, lots of kitty toys and of course unlimited organic food and fresh water. But Mondo was much too worried to care about the new items that filled the room, instead he was frightened for his safety. Mondo hid in the corner of the room, with his face to the wall, trembling for several days. I worked with him one-on-one, petting him, hand-feeding him, talking to him and just sitting with him. You can never undervalue the importance of just being in another living beings presence when they need you the most. The power of our energy to heal and calm will never cease to amaze me. After receiving terrific veterinary care and unlimited love, attention and patience- Mondo began to welcome my touch. Several days later, Mondo crawled sheepishly into my lap where he nestled himself in a tiny ball and began to purr. I let out a deep breath, relived that he had so quickly learned that he could trust me- and that all humans were not horrible. I will never grow tired of working one-on-one with the social and emotional rehabilitation of rescue cats. I am in awe and incredibly inspired each time I witness the transformation that once seemed impossible. The power that exists within the cat’s soul, to love and trust again- to take a chance on life and to live in the here and now instead of the past- I can only hope that I too can learn a lesson from their incredible resilience. Nearly a month later, Mondo had a constant purr, followed me around the house much like a puppy….his wounds- physical, social and emotional- were beginning to heal. Slowly but surely Mondo’s facial hair grew in. His coat of short black fur transformed from dull and brittle to a coat of fur that was as soft and shiny as silk. His green eyes relaxed and he learned the joys of basking in the warm rays of sunlight that bled through the windows of my home. A short while later, Mondo was adopted into a loving, forever Ohio home to call his very own.
Reece and Royce- two severely ill and malnourished kittens came to Advocates 4 Animals after a rescue from an extreme hoarding home. Tiny brothers, Reece and Royce were among the few survivors that existed in the homes rubble. They had been living in an extremely crowded home- filled with items from floor to ceiling, and filled with pets- both dead and alive. Sadly, more were found dead than alive. None of the pets had been spayed/neutered, which had caused an endless cycle of reproduction. Their little eyes were so infected that we could not see their eyes, nor could they see their rescuers. In addition to being incredibly malnourished, Reece and Royce were suffering from a URI (upper respiratory infection) and they were hardly able to walk or stand on their own. They were infested with worms, fleas and ear mites, but despite the long list of woes, the boys somehow found the strength and the love in their tiny hearts to purr the very moment they entered their volunteer foster home at Advocates 4 Animals. Beatty, Co-Founder of A4A, shared, “Reece and Royce were real troopers. They had very little chance of survival, but with excellent veterinary care and with our volunteers working around the clock to provide the boys with constant love, attention and good nutrition, they pulled through. They had the will to survive and we had rescued them literally just in time. They became strong enough to walk, to run and to jump and play- as all kittens should do. They learned to eat on their own, they became strong, healthy boys. Shortly after their neuter surgery, the boys were adopted together in a Southern Ohio home and it couldn’t have been a more perfect match- for the adopter and for the kittens. What a transformation the boys made. Simply amazing. There are no other words to describe their transformation. Amazing.”
Currently, Advocates 4 Animals is fostering an incredibly adorable feline named Sandy. Sandy was rescued from a high-kill shelter in Kentucky. Every week the shelter kills the animals that are not adopted- which tends to be 99% of those who enter the shelter doors each week. Without rescue organizations like Advocates 4 Animals stepping up to the plate, the animals at the Estill County, Kentucky shelter do not have much chance of survival. No medical care or vetting is provided at the shelter, therefore rescue organizations who step up to help these animals in need, are the ones who cover the vetting costs such as spay/neuter, vaccinations, FeLv and FIV testing, treating each cat for the prevention of ear mites, fleas and worms, receiving a general health check, and any additional medical needs that may arise. Advocates 4 Animals rescued Sandy, along with several other felines, just moments away from their scheduled death at the hands of shelter workers. Transportation through several volunteers was arranged to bring the death row cats safely to Advocates 4 Animals in Dayton, Ohio. Upon their arrival, it was quickly noticed that Sandy was suffering not only from dehydration, malnutrition, tape worms, fleas and ear mites…but Sandy also had an infection in her mouth. In addition, Sandy was nervous and unsure of how to behave around her foster family. She walked low to the ground, almost like a snake. And when presented with a toy, Sandy simply walked across it- not understanding what toys were for. It appeared that Sandy had been mistreated previously in life and the wonderful new world that she had entered was a bit of a puzzle to her young mind. After terrific veterinary care and receiving lots of love and affection from her foster family, Sandy started to hold her tail up tall- she was proud, she was happy, and she was healthy! Sandy’s foster family is experienced in fostering cats in need of social and emotional rehabilitation and they understand the importance of maintaining a calm energy around new foster felines. It has been over a month since Sandy’s successful rescue and Sandy’s foster family is proud to report that Sandy is now playing with toys every evening, she snuggles up to sleep next to her human or feline foster family members and she is a “purr-machine”. It is without doubt that Sandy will find the adopter/home of her dreams in the near future. As for now, this sweet, lucky feline is waiting patiently in her volunteer foster home at Advocates 4 Animals.
The importance of feline rescue and rehabilitation (physical, social and emotional) is of extreme importance around the globe. If you would like to help with the rescue and rehabilitation of felines in need, please contact your local rescue organizations, county pounds or city shelters for more information on how you can help make a difference for so many precious lives in need. You can locate local rescue groups and shelters by typing in your zip code at www.PetFinder.com . It is important to remember that the goal of rescue and rehabilitation of domestic felines is to prepare them for adoption. Remember Mondo’s compelling story of transformation and recovery, recall the tiny brothers- Reece and Royce and sweet Sandy…there are millions more just like them, waiting to be rescued, waiting to be properly rehabilitated and desperately waiting to be adopted into loving, committed homes to each call their very own. There are an unlimited number of ways you can help cats in need. Whether it is through adoption, fostering, training, volunteering your time- there is an extraordinary need for help- and you can be the difference. You can be the one who changes a life, who saves a life. Each one of us has the power to make a difference- the question is- how will you choose to make your impact?