Monday, July 21, 2008

Save This One. Love, God.

It should be no secret by now that the foreclosure situation across America is wrecking havoc on humans. Displaced, many forced to declare bankruptcy, entire families are moving into the homes of friends and relatives. They are moving into cars. Some are moving into hotels until they figure out what to do next. Some are living on the streets. Some are sharing homes with other families. Some are in shelters.

Combine this with the collapse of the real estate market in most areas, the statistical rise of unemployment and continued outsourcing of jobs, the over doubling of fuel, the rise in food costs, and for some caught in concomitant natural disasters, their double whammy.

Then there is the situation with Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran with one, sometimes two, members of the family called to duty or serving a second or third tour overseas or being relocated to a new base.

All of these human situations trickle down into my world of animal rescue.

Even in "normal" years, the situation is a disaster. But this year--beyond the animals left behind when a family turns them out in the wild lands here, the animals of the extremely ill or deceased whose immediate or extended family members often just want them out "now" or those kind friends that go the extra mile to honor the person they love and find those animals a safe haven--it is more akin to the nexus from hell.

There are also the normal stream of animals from those entering jail, abuse shelters, or drug or alcohol facilities, and the never ending tide of hoarders where, when they are finally busted, there may be 50-150 animals involved--or more--usually in tragic physical and emotional states.

I have friends of all sorts deeply touched--some bowled right over--by one of these circumstances, some deeply gouged by several.

But with this brings a whole host of other associated problems. As an animal rescuer, I am increasingly finding myself near emotional paralysis under the burden of desperate pleas for help by people that truly love their animals, but must find a place for them in a year where EVERY shelter is loaded to the gills like Noah's Ark. I cannot take them all, no one can. I am permitted for a certain number, and no more. I cannot move animals into responsible and appropriate-to-the-animal new homes quickly enough with so many humans unsure of their futures.

In thirty years, I have not seen a situation like this. It is bringing the rescue and shelter community to its knees. Even some rescuers are falling, and we in rescue need to help them first.

To each tearfully written plea, I have to respond. I have to say yes or no, almost always no these days, and see if there is another way I can help. Perhaps a referral to another jammed rescue, a plea for a rare new foster home, or perhaps a recommendation for a shelter that doesn't kill animals immediately after 72 hours, though shelters are at the mercy of space. The older animals will never make it out alive. Most of the younger ones won't either. The kill rates this year will be sky-high.

I have to make a dozen or more Sophie's choices every single day and I hate it. It has gotten to the point that I don't even want to open my e-mail.

At this point, I have several times broken down in tears of sheer hopelessness as I have to type the simple word "no" in a sentence otherwise trying to explain why and what I can try to help with along with suggestions. I have to do better, but I don't know how.

I have to consider what is here, what will fit in, and all this within the permit numbers I must stay within. I put those permit numbers upon myself. I never wanted to have more than I can care for properly. In normal years, in fact, I NEVER even allow this many animals here, so I must "chose" even more carefully.

The pleading eyes of a mother cat with her six two-week old kittens is horrible. But no more horrible that the 12 year old dog that will most certainly die in the shelter and will be wondering where their family and couch went and why they are in such a noisy and frightening place where, sometimes, they get attacked by other dogs and rarely receive even a kind word or touch. When, finally, they are walked on their leashes (happy to be out for a stroll), they find themselves in the kill room where, in the best of situations, they will die quickly and gently with a needle in their vein. Others will die slowly and horribly in a gas chamber.

Here is a letter I received today, with personal information removed. This is her fifth plea to me in as many days. She was served, at 11pm last night, with her 3-day notice to move as her home is being foreclosed upon:


Lost my home, my foster pets need homes now!

I am desperately searching for a home for my 11 foster kitties. These foster kitties,if not for me would be feral cats. There is one semi-feraI cat and one feral cat that depend on me and my backyard for life and sustenance. There is also Roxy a foster kitty friend, a Chihuahua mix little dog, she needs a good loving home.

The kitties are very social and love their little group. It would be wonderful if they could be kept as a group(s).

Then there are my two older cats,too that may be left homeless, unless I can relocate them or relocate to a pet safe location. We all need help ASAP.

Thank you for listening.
God bless you.


At the bottom of her plea was a photo of each cat and dog and all the information on them. The post must have taken her the better part of a day to do.

I have two spaces for cats, then I am back at my limit. The ferals cannot come here, we have no feral program. The semi-ferals won't do well here with the dogs. I was supposed to fill my two remaining cat spaces today with two cats from a woman who is in alcohol rehab for six months, one of those cats so obese the cat can barely move at probably 28 lbs. Cat obesity is a specialty of mine, so this cat tears at my heart. This cat is paired with a semi-feral.

I also have a request from someone in the community to take their 10 year-old dog, and their three senior (8-12 year-old) cats. They were foreclosed upon and have to be out by August 1.

I think you can see how I am pinned just in these three requests.

The realities are that senior animals can be here for a VERY long time. Others, due to the stress of the losing their families, will quickly show signs of a serious underlying illness and last just weeks even with the very best of veterinary care and my doting oversight.

Younger animals, can also be very unpredictable in health. For dogs, parvo and distemper show up frequently, and for cats everything from pneumonia to FIP. This atop syndromes we just don't understand where the animals don't thrive no matter what we do. The cats and dogs that tend to do the best are those a year to six years, "tend" being the key word.

I have traditionally taken in medical animals as fosters as these animals do well here, with my experience. I have four such cats at the moment, all on the downhill side of illness which can probably leave in the next three weeks. I have three cats that came from hoarder situations, each lovely and healthy now, but this is a terrible time to find homes for adult cats. I have a semi-feral who is mine, and a cat with normalized (by diet) IBD who is also mine. I have two semi-ferals I am holding for a woman who is pregnant and has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Those two will stay until we know if her condition will allow the cats to return or not. I have two cats from a woman dying and in a coma whose friends took the responsibility in finding them safe haven before she died. One is in the median stages of kidney failure, the other is an obesity case and cannot be adopted out until the cat is at weight and stable for several months, meaning the cat will be here for at least six more months.

I have a senior blind dog (just a sweetheart), a dog recently recovered from the worst case of mange my vet had ever seen (has been here for six months), and the remainder are either seniors, mild behavior (non-aggressive) cases, or dogs recovered or nearly recovered from illnesses or injuries looking for good homes. I am at my permit limit for dogs.

Every single day I decide who lives and who dies. I hate this burden. I wish God would just leave them in a box at my front door with a note: Save this one. Love, God.