TheCatSite.com › Forums › General Forums › The Cat Lounge › Reality Check: am I wrong to be upset with our shelter?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Reality Check: am I wrong to be upset with our shelter?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
As some of you know, I volunteer with a no-kill, non-profit shelter in the area, and have been doing so for over three years. The shelter has an absolutely stellar reputation. There are occasional problems there, just as there are everywhere... but overall, I've always had a lot of faith in the way it's run.

In the past year, though, I've become concerned -- and in the past ten days, I've gotten downright angry. I could be expecting too much, though... I don't know. So please, especially if you have shelter experience, tell me what you think:

Those of us who foster for the shelter had always been assured that our foster critters were getting checked for potentially contagious problems before they were handed over to us, unless we were otherwise informed. Sometimes they're too young or too ill for some kinds of testing and treatment, but we were told we would always be informed if that was the case, so we could take appropriate precautions for our own pets.

Late last year, it became apparent to me that in fact, animals were being taken in and put right back out into foster homes without so much as a flea-check. I raised the issue with the volunteer coordinator, and she and I had a talk with the intake person and one of the senior vet techs. I was assured that the issue would be resolved... but since then, they've had such rapid turnover in most of the positions related to the issue that things have only gotten more chaotic. I don't believe I have ever received the right paperwork with a foster, which makes it impossible to track the animal's medical history... and we've unknowingly taken home kittens with fleas, ticks, coccidia, severe URI... you name it.

On one occasion, I smelled the characteristic smell of coccidia on the poopy little kitten we'd brought home, so I went back the next day and told them I thought the kitten had coccidia. The vet tech shooed me out of the room, supposedly did some kind of test, and handed the kitten back to me, saying she was fine. Three days later, the poor little thing was so sick that I gathered my nerve and went back again. This time I stayed and watched the test done -- and sure enough, she did have coccidia, and they finally gave us some medicine for her.

That's the general attitude, by the way -- the vet techs seem vehemently resentful toward the volunteers and fosters, to the point of direct hostility at times. We're told in volunteer training that they appreciate it when we let them know about kittens who seem to have problems -- sneezing, runny eyes, etc. But when we actually do so, we're dismissed, as if we're too stupid for our observations to mean anything.

The six tiny kittens I took home last week were shockingly small and weak, but the staff told me, "Oh, don't worry, they'll do fine, just feed them when they cry." I asked for more detailed instruction, because I'd never fostered such tiny ones before, but all I got was "Don't turn the heating pad up any higher than Low."

As some of you know, one of those kittens died at the emergency vet that night, and they were all found to have, for god's sake, maggots infesting their intestinal tracts. The infestation was visible, to anyone who knew what he was looking at (which I didn't).

So clearly, nobody had done a thing for those poor kittens -- they just handed them over to someone who had no experience in fostering bottle babies at all. If they'd looked at them first, they would have known they needed some immediate treatment -- and that poor little girl I later took to the ER might have survived.

Now Dorothy, the stray I had been caring for in our back yard, is at the shelter awaiting adoption. I've been over there almost every day to check on her, and my name is on record as the person surrendering her, so it should not have been hard for them to contact me. But they didn't -- they just decided to send her for spaying! I could have told them she was already spayed (in fact, I had told them -- I had marked it on the forms), because it was obvious from her behavior during the two months I knew her before I finally got her a spot in the shelter. Plus, she's declawed, and that certainly ought to raise a question in their minds as to whether she was spayed at the same time!

But they opened her up anyway, subjected her to sedation, only to find that she was already spayed... and now she has an infection in the incision, a high fever requiring subcutaneous fluids, and a bad URI.

And I'm the one who placed her in their hands! I feel horrible for what she's being put through. I'm on the verge of going over there and just taking her back, taking her to our vet, getting her well, and finding her a home myself, however long it might take.

I can't afford it... between Dylan's injury and the ER visit for the foster kitten, we're down over $450 in the past two weeks. But I'm seriously thinking of doing it anyway, asking the vet to let me pay over time.

Am I wrong to expect better than this of our shelter? I know it's an incredibly high-pressure environment, with far more animals in need than can possibly be helped... I know that many of the people who work there do so because they like animals a lot better than people, and therefore they just aren't going to be pleasant to deal with... but it still seems to me that there's a carelessness over there, a literal lack of care, that was not the norm just a year or so ago.

Have I been deluding myself about the quality of our shelter? Is it just this way in shelters everywhere? And if not, if it should not be like this... what can I do? What should I do?
post #2 of 28
No, you're not expecting too much. Is there a board or senior member who runs the shelter from an administrative point of view? Who is the top of the totem pole, as the saying goes? Do they hold meetings, cuz I'd ask for one. Also, gather info on who their sponsers are. When discussing with the board, you might mention that ">>>> doesn't donate money to have us toss new boards out to homes like rented movies, without so much as a deworming". These animals are dying because people are being lazy, period. There's no excuse for incompetance in the workplace and that's exactly what these so called vets and vet techs are demonstrating. Paperwork and due dilligence is necessary and obviously these people are shirking their duties. You need to find out who they report to and go to that person. Obviously working within the shelter won't work if they already consider you hostile. I say, go to the board of directors.
post #3 of 28
You may remember all of the bad feelings between the staff and the volunteers at the animal control facility in your town - I certainly do. I don't believe that the staff and volunteers will ever work well together.
Talk to the higher ups again, then it is time to go the DMN or one of the local stations.

I would take Dorothy back. She is too cute to be put through all of this. I am very angry at them - O.K. or the McKinney group?
post #4 of 28
No, you are not wrong to be upset.That is a bunch of BS and they know it.You are being taken for granted and that is not fair to you or the animals.
Don't beat yourself up over the kit or Dorothy.You didn't know.It is THEIR job to know and look for these things and deal with them the right way.
HUGS!!!!
post #5 of 28
Gosh, I don't have any advice but kuddos to you for the volunteer work you do! It sounds like they are swamped and in over their heads but that doesn't excuse the shabby treatment of the volunteers. I think you need to speak up. I wish you luck!
post #6 of 28
I feel you, really. I've mentioned before on here how shady some of my experiences with animal clinics have been. I've volunteered at two shelters, and quit for similar reasons as you. I worked as a vet assistant at a clinic another summer, and because of the unsanitary practices and bad record keeping, I spoke up and got fired for it.

I don't know what it is... ignorance, lack of decent pay for staffers, lack of funding for proper education... who knows.
I know these places are REALLY strapped for cash to do anything, but there are still a lot of things these places could do to improve their services to both the animals and owners/future owners.

Before I realized how bad it was (when I was volunteering), I kept my mouth shut and just did as much I could personally to improve conditions. By the time I worked at a vet, I was almost done with pharmacy school and familiar enough with how things should go in a practice (whether human or animals) that I spoke up. It was a mistake. I should have gone to the highest person I could with an annonymous letter, fake letter from a patient, or something...

The stuff that was happening was horrible. Not disinfecting tables or cages inbetween surgeries or new kennels, spraying bleach on clothes (thinking this would keep the FeLV on your clothes from the last cat you held who was dying of it off the next cat), crazy stuff. I could go on and on.

And sadly, I think it's more the norm than the exception. The people I've worked with have nearly always been great and truly in it for the right reasons, it's just that they are basically ignorant of how important record keeping and sanitation technique are when dealing with sick animals. And they don't want to listen to a 24 year old girl tell them how to do it either.

So, I suggest going way high up, even with something a little sneaky, so as to not get yourself fired for being a troublemaker like I did.
post #7 of 28
First off- no, that is certainly NOT the standard at all shelters- nor should it ever be that way. I think you did the right thing by speaking up- but since they're not getting the message- you need to do it again...and Loudly. Those animals should not be allowed to suffer like that! As a vet tech for a VERY VERY VERY busy shelter (not no-kill but low kill depending) i can tell you right now- yes things can get chaotic- but in no way should a shelter lie to foster homes about testing animals and tell them that they are negative just to get them out of the shelter- that's how you spread disease.

Now hear me out though- what COULD have happened is that the test gave the tech a false negative the first time she tested the kitten for coccidia. Those tests are not fool-proof and many times the animals need to be tested 2x to ensure an accurate reading. (especially with some snap tests that test for things like parvo and giardia.) HOWEVER in even the suspecion of coccidia (negative test reading or not) the kitten should have been given antibiotics for the diarreah issue. If a kitten has diarreah- it's potassium levels and electrolytes can drop very rapidly and certainly can lead to death/dehydration. Something should have been done about that- you are absolutely right.

As far as the kitty who was assumed to be spayed. It is not uncommon in shelters or vets offices to reopen the kitty - IF the scar is not noticable (this can happen when a kitty is spayed at a young age by a very skilled vet- the scars can be soooo tiny and heal soo well that you can not gurantee it's a spay scar- it could also be a scar from bladder surgery/etc) The ONLY gurantee in that instance to ensure that the kitty is spayed is to open them up and check for a uterus. So they were following standard procedure if in that case the scar was not noticable or was very questionable. This is why it is SOOOOOOO important for shelters to start tattooing the spay sites. That way there is no mistake- when you shave that belly and see the spay tattoo- you KNOW the kitty is spayed and will not have to open it up "just to be sure". So as much as that stinks that the kitty was reopened (i am soo sorry that this happened) it is most likely because the scar was very tiny and they weren't for sure it was a spay scar- so just to be on the safe side it was necessary to open them up. Definitely suggest to them that they start tattooing after each spay/neuter in the future!! This will prevent this problem. Also - yes many places assume that if a kitty's been declawed, it's also been altared- but that is not always the case or standard so they can not go by that alone.

Do ask the vet/staff about giving Dorothy Baytril for the uti as well as the infection. be sure that you watch the incision site when you're up there to make sure it doesn't absess- if it starts to- they need to reopen her and clean it out otherwise it can be life threatening (not to scare you- just be on the look out). they baytril should help clear it up though. don't let them give her amoxicillin or clavamox to treat her conditions though- it won't help much....baytril is much better or even albon if need be. does she have disolvable stiches or normal ones. I hope the normal ones because if need be- they can leave those in a bit longer (especially with an infection).

definitely speak up though hon- you are right- that shelter's standards are not what they should be and as a result it is only going to do more harm than good. you do wonderful work volunteering- i just wanted to let you know that! those animals you help are lucky to have you!
post #8 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by StarryEyedTiGeR View Post
definitely speak up though hon- you are right- that shelter's standards are not what they should be and as a result it is only going to do more harm than good. you do wonderful work volunteering- i just wanted to let you know that! those animals you help are lucky to have you!


The shelter I worked at is nothing like your experience at the shelter with your fosters and Dorothy. They definitely should be checking the kitties. I mean checking for fleas, earmites, & ticks is easy. The shelter I worked at didn't have on site vets/techs or foster, but made sure we didn't intentionally send home sick or flea/tick/mite infested cats. We also sent critters to the vet clinic on rotation that week if they needed care.

In your shoes I would also be seriously thinking about taking Dorothy home. Why didn't they just call and check with your vet rather than opening her up again?

As for her being declawed, that's not always an indicator of being fixed. I was surprised at the number of animals we got in that were declawed but not fixed. (no explanation for that, other than some people are stupid )
post #9 of 28
that sounds horrible, how incompetent. I fostered for a non-kill rescue and had issues, but nothing like yours.

Since everything is volunteer, I think the attitude is :oh well". they would only pay for the cheapest dry food, and took their good old time showing the kittens. They could have been adopted right away, but let them sit in my house for 4 months until they lost their cuteness. Plus, I wanted them out, it was cramped for them and mommy with my cats.

I think your place is borderline negligent, and I would be tempted to invite the regulatory agency to come have a looksee.

I mean what is the point of being a resue agency if you are going to do more harm than good?
They might need some encouragement.
post #10 of 28
Aw Carol - I feel for you! I volunteered at a local place for a few years and finally walked away from them after a lot of soul searching. I personally drew these conclusions about shelters:

People who create shelters do it because of their love for animals, not because they have good business savy. The problems that I've seen with most grass roots shelters are related to the administration of the shelter. Sometimes it has to do with medical care, sometimes with the ability to manage themselves financially, sometimes with coordinating their volunteer staff. Many drive off their good volunteers because of their frustration with how they are managed.

Because they started the shelter out of the love for animals, they often make the false assumption that everyone would lay down and die on the tracks for any animal. Many volunteers do so because they do love animals, but not to the point that they give their lives for them. I've heard the president of a Humane Society call her volunteers lazy or stupid because they don't have the same attitude as she has. Not the best way to motivate people donating their time to help. A big red flag within a shelter is when you start to see a high turnover of employees and/or volunteers.

And for those that were created out of grass roots efforts (the individual who started it out of their home is most typical), they have a difficult time letting go of control once they get a little bigger. They become stressed because the job of running the shelter is greater than their ability to run it, and things go from bad to worse in a hurry.

You can rationalize some of the problems with the shelter (someone missed a medical record) to some degree but you need to judge them on the order of magnitude or repeatedness of the problems. If it gets to the point that you can't support them, find another group to volunteer for.

I walked away from my last shelter when it was obvious that there was nothing that I could do that was either good enough for them, or say that they deemed worthy. I tried to help them with their financial situation by coaching them with best business practices (I run multi-million projects at work and know how to manage money) but I got a "thanks but no thanks". My friend, a certified Dog Listener tried to help them through dog behavior issues and they refused her help (and had to put a few dogs down when they bit people). Their vet techs assumed that everyone was ignorant about the medical needs of animals. It's a darn shame that they are about to file for bankruptcy.

Find the person in charge and talk to them about your observations. Bring specific examples on when things failed. If they take action, then they are willing to change to better their environment. If they ignore you, then it will explain the nature of a lot of their problems.

It took me over a year to come to the decision to find another organization to support. It's not an easy decision as every rescue group out there can't survive without volunteers. But every group needs volunteers and as long as you are helping one, you are helping the good of animals. Find one where you feel you are making a positive contribution.
post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by littleraven7726 View Post


As for her being declawed, that's not always an indicator of being fixed. I was surprised at the number of animals we got in that were declawed but not fixed. (no explanation for that, other than some people are stupid )

It is really hard to understand why a cat would be declawed and not spayed. That really makes no sense.

I don't understand people that run a shelter and not give basic care especially with vet techs that work there. I can understand a shelter not having the money for extensive and expensive care and possibly having to euthanize because of that. The things that they aren't doing don't fall in that category. They're the basic things to do especially for a stray, orphaned kittens, or cats that were surrendered. As much as shelters are needed, with their attitudes I would question rather they should be running a shelter.
post #12 of 28
I agree that what they're doing is dangerous. You should be able to get access to full records for the fosters before you take them to be home to ensure they are "clean". You do NOT want to risk infecting your kitties with anything, and them not understanding that is disgusting and irresponsible.

At my shelter, as soon as a cat or dog comes in the door it gets full vaccinations, and a quick check over for other problems. They often miss things like worms which may not be obvious at the time, but foster parents are told to look out for that sort of thing.

If we suspect anything, the vet techs look into it straight away - they trust the foster parents. Also, if we're volunteering with the kitties and notice anything odd - diarrhea, walking a little funny, runny eyes, we let someone know, and a vet tech is always in to the cat area as soon as they can get there to check on the kitty. They know we spend the most time with them and are the ones who will pick up on that first.

And as far as I'm concerned - that's how it should be!!!!! My shelter doesn't have the best office staff, they don't REALLY care about the cats anywhere near as much as the volunteers so, but the vet and vet techs are awesome.

Take your complaints to someone higher, someone needs to be done.

Edit: Oh and I should add - a foster parent NEVER pays a cent out for expenses!!!!! If they want to spoil the kitty and get better food/litter, fine, otherwise the shelter provides all food, litter, trays, bowls - everything that's needed. You take the kitty back in weekly check ups, more regularly if it's not well, so the vets can keep an eye on it.

If something happens and needs vet attention during shelter hours, we take them there, if it's out of shelter hours, we have the vet and the vet techs home and cell numbers, and we call the vet first, the vet techs second until we reach someone (no matter what time it is), let them know what's going on, and if they agree it needs immediate vet attention, we go down to the local emergency vet and put it on the shelter account. We don't pay out anything of our own money!!!! They just ask that we contact a vet first to make sure it does need emergency vet because it's expensive to see them.
post #13 of 28
I do think you need to bring this up to the higher ups in the shelter. They are risking losing the very people who they need most, volunteers and foster homes. These are very difficult to replace and losing them will hurt the goals the shelter is trying to achieve.
post #14 of 28
That's bad. My heart definitely goes out to you. I agree with the others. There is no reason for that type of negligence. My local shelter (where Reyah and Hera came from) is a very high kill shelter, but they do better by their animals than what it sounds like this place is doing. They will administer medications and give shots when the animals come in. IMO, there is no excuse for you having to go through this with them. I wish you the best of luck and truly hope things improve.
post #15 of 28
I have never worked at or volunteered at a shelter before. I wanted to mention that a no-kill shelter we adopted our RB cat Midnight from many years ago, had a policy I think should be standard for all shelters. In this shelter all the new arrivals and mother cats with litters were kept in a special quarintine area for at least two weeks, and weren't put up for adoption or exposed to the other shelter cats until they had been thoroughly vetted and determined to be healthy. I hope conditions at your shelter improve soon.
post #16 of 28
I would begin documenting these cases, because the scary thing is if these vet techs work other jobs in the same field, how many fosters are truely being uncared for?

especiallly if you are being given the wrong medical history, I would begin documenting each case. Keep taking those fosters back and document each time.

When you have enough cases (even 2 or 3 in a short period of time) I would definitely take your documentation to a senior member of the shelter.
post #17 of 28
Thread Starter 
You guys are the greatest -- I really appreciate the thought and care you've put into your responses. And Nikki, bless your heart, I can tell you're trying very hard not to hurt my feelings with the possible mitigating factors you mention -- and you haven't. I know you're right about those things. (But I'd never heard of tattooing the spay site before -- what a great idea!)

Someone mentioned something that made me worry I'd been unclear about Dorothy's origins, though -- she's a stray we took in, and has never been to our vet. The only reason I felt so sure she had already been spayed was that her behavior never suggested it at all... and there are male cats roaming around here who don't appear to be neutered, yet Dorothy has never shown the slightest sign of heat, and those cats didn't start hanging around while she was in our back yard, so...

I suppose that doesn't prove that she was already spayed... and I guess they do have to be sure... but oh, I hate that she's having to go through this, poor little girl. She was such a sweet, happy kitty, and now I've put her in a tiny cage and she's been sedated and cut open and gotten an infection and a fever, and she's so afraid of everyone now. It just breaks my heart.

I'm going over there now to see how she's doing. If I still don't feel right about it, I'm bringing her home... it's a risk to our other kitties, but...

Oh, I hate it when you just don't know what's the right thing to do!
post #18 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarolPetunia View Post
Someone mentioned something that made me worry I'd been unclear about Dorothy's origins, though -- she's a stray we took in, and has never been to our vet. The only reason I felt so sure she had already been spayed was that her behavior never suggested it at all... and there are male cats roaming around here who don't appear to be neutered, yet Dorothy has never shown the slightest sign of heat, and those cats didn't start hanging around while she was in our back yard, so...

[snip]

I'm going over there now to see how she's doing. If I still don't feel right about it, I'm bringing her home... it's a risk to our other kitties, but...
OK, that's more clear. I thought she had been spayed at your vet.

I really hope she's ok. Usually they can find a scar if they shave the belly. Poor girl to have to go through all that.
post #19 of 28
Thread Starter 
Okay... back from the shelter, and I feel better now. Dorothy is in a larger cage in the back, in the surgical suite, and she seems much better today, thank goodness. Her eyes are clear, and she was eating well for the first time since she's been at the shelter!

I talked to the animal care director, and she said the vet is coming again tomorrow and will have another look at her. I said, "Am I correct in thinking she's out of danger now?" and she said, "Oh sure, she's gonna be fine, honey. Just got to get her over this upper respiratory thing, and she's gettin' her medicine for that."

So that made me feel better, that without even looking at the paperwork, that lady knew what was up with Dorothy. Until today, I hadn't felt like anybody but me even knew who she was, y'know? Or cared!

Here's the best part -- on the paperwork, there was a handwritten note with a woman's name, her home, cell, and work phone numbers, and "Please call when available!" So Dorothy already has a potential mom!

I wrote on the paperwork that if Dorothy needed any special care, I would foster her, just call... in case she needs to be out of the shelter environment, where the URI flies around all the time.

But she's looking so much better now, and she seems happier in that larger cage, in a room with only two other critters. (Granted, they're both chi-hooah-hooahs, so the yipping is nonstop -- but it didn't seem to upset her at all.)

So okay! I can breathe again! I'll keep going back to check on her, of course, but for the moment, I feel much more confident that she's going to be all right. And once Dorothy is healthy and safe in her new home, then I can be more calm and clearheaded in addressing these other issues at the shelter.

I wonder if there are professional consultants who troubleshoot animal shelters...
post #20 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorie D. View Post
I have never worked at or volunteered at a shelter before. I wanted to mention that a no-kill shelter we adopted our RB cat Midnight from many years ago, had a policy I think should be standard for all shelters. In this shelter all the new arrivals and mother cats with litters were kept in a special quarintine area for at least two weeks, and weren't put up for adoption or exposed to the other shelter cats until they had been thoroughly vetted and determined to be healthy. I hope conditions at your shelter improve soon.
Most places are like that for the regular cats that don't need fostering. If they're little kittens though, they need to go into a foster home ASAP to get properly socialised and good care. This is where the problems lay - they may not get all the treatment they need, and the foster coordinator needs to make sure the foster family needs to know exactly what the kitten is vaccinated against and what to look out for so they can keep their own kittie safe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CarolPetunia View Post

Oh, I hate it when you just don't know what's the right thing to do!
It sounds like you're doing everything you can

Quote:
Originally Posted by CarolPetunia View Post
Okay... back from the shelter, and I feel better now. Dorothy is in a larger cage in the back, in the surgical suite, and she seems much better today, thank goodness. Her eyes are clear, and she was eating well for the first time since she's been at the shelter!

I talked to the animal care director, and she said the vet is coming again tomorrow and will have another look at her. I said, "Am I correct in thinking she's out of danger now?" and she said, "Oh sure, she's gonna be fine, honey. Just got to get her over this upper respiratory thing, and she's gettin' her medicine for that."

So that made me feel better, that without even looking at the paperwork, that lady knew what was up with Dorothy. Until today, I hadn't felt like anybody but me even knew who she was, y'know? Or cared!

Here's the best part -- on the paperwork, there was a handwritten note with a woman's name, her home, cell, and work phone numbers, and "Please call when available!" So Dorothy already has a potential mom!

I wrote on the paperwork that if Dorothy needed any special care, I would foster her, just call... in case she needs to be out of the shelter environment, where the URI flies around all the time.

But she's looking so much better now, and she seems happier in that larger cage, in a room with only two other critters. (Granted, they're both chi-hooah-hooahs, so the yipping is nonstop -- but it didn't seem to upset her at all.)

So okay! I can breathe again! I'll keep going back to check on her, of course, but for the moment, I feel much more confident that she's going to be all right. And once Dorothy is healthy and safe in her new home, then I can be more calm and clearheaded in addressing these other issues at the shelter.

I wonder if there are professional consultants who troubleshoot animal shelters...
That's good that Dorothy is being taken care of, but it still doesn't fix the problem of the animals going out to foster, and the vet techs attitudes. They still need to be addressed, and it needs to be someone like you who does it - as hard as it is!!
post #21 of 28
I am so sorry for what you are going through. I know our vet can tell if a cat is spayed or not jus by feeling in that part of the belly. You've gotten some great advice on what can be done so no more cats have to be put through senseless suffering.
post #22 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarolPetunia View Post
You guys are the greatest -- I really appreciate the thought and care you've put into your responses. And Nikki, bless your heart, I can tell you're trying very hard not to hurt my feelings with the possible mitigating factors you mention -- and you haven't. I know you're right about those things. (But I'd never heard of tattooing the spay site before -- what a great idea!

Someone mentioned something that made me worry I'd been unclear about Dorothy's origins, though -- she's a stray we took in, and has never been to our vet. The only reason I felt so sure she had already been spayed was that her behavior never suggested it at all... and there are male cats roaming around here who don't appear to be neutered, yet Dorothy has never shown the slightest sign of heat, and those cats didn't start hanging around while she was in our back yard, so...

I suppose that doesn't prove that she was already spayed... and I guess they do have to be sure... but oh, I hate that she's having to go through this, poor little girl. She was such a sweet, happy kitty, and now I've put her in a tiny cage and she's been sedated and cut open and gotten an infection and a fever, and she's so afraid of everyone now. It just breaks my heart.

I'm going over there now to see how she's doing. If I still don't feel right about it, I'm bringing her home... it's a risk to our other kitties, but...

Oh, I hate it when you just don't know what's the right thing to do!
aww thanks! i was trying to figure out the best way to word that to give both sides a benifit of a doubt. i definitely applaud you for all the wonderful work you do with those sweet furbabies! they're lucky to have you looking after them! Also just to add- not all kitties show very noticable signs of going into heat (so it's hard to tell if a kitty's been spayed relying on that method) - kitties can go into silent heats (they're actually REALLY common.)
I hope she begins to improve soon so that she can find a lovely forever home!!! You've done a great job with her- i wish her nothing but the best and a great forever home!! (also- do you know what antibiotics they put her on?)


As far as the tattooing goes- it is VERY inexpensive- so your shelter could definitely afford to do it- all ya'll need to do is go to your local tattoo parlor (or order) and get one syringe full of tattoo ink. for instance- our shelter uses teal green so that if our kitties/dogs were to get loose and another shelter were to find them- they'd know it came from ours. another shelter in our area uses blue/etc. also it only takes a TINSY amount of tattoo ink and you just put it under the stitches/into the incision site right after you sew the animal up from their spay/neuter. it's totally painless (done with a regular shot type syringe and doesn't actually pierce the skin. Not to mention- you do it when the animal's still knocked out so they never know! just be sure the staff doesn't touch the ink right afterwards unless they want a temp. tattoo also- if ya'll get a little too much on the incision site and it's still fresh- just spray a little hydrogen peroxide on it and gently wipe it off a pinch (not too much). spay tattoos prevent soooooo many problems (like reopening an already altared animal just to be sure )and are totally worth it!!! also- one syringe full of tattoo ink should last a VERY long time (i'll put it this way- on average every week we do anywhere from 20-50 spay/neuters just depending on how many animals we have at the time- one syringe of tattoo ink will last through MULTIPLE spay/neuter days!!


Quote:
Originally Posted by CarolPetunia View Post
Okay... back from the shelter, and I feel better now. Dorothy is in a larger cage in the back, in the surgical suite, and she seems much better today, thank goodness. Her eyes are clear, and she was eating well for the first time since she's been at the shelter!

I talked to the animal care director, and she said the vet is coming again tomorrow and will have another look at her. I said, "Am I correct in thinking she's out of danger now?" and she said, "Oh sure, she's gonna be fine, honey. Just got to get her over this upper respiratory thing, and she's gettin' her medicine for that."

So that made me feel better, that without even looking at the paperwork, that lady knew what was up with Dorothy. Until today, I hadn't felt like anybody but me even knew who she was, y'know? Or cared!

Here's the best part -- on the paperwork, there was a handwritten note with a woman's name, her home, cell, and work phone numbers, and "Please call when available!" So Dorothy already has a potential mom!

I wrote on the paperwork that if Dorothy needed any special care, I would foster her, just call... in case she needs to be out of the shelter environment, where the URI flies around all the time.

But she's looking so much better now, and she seems happier in that larger cage, in a room with only two other critters. (Granted, they're both chi-hooah-hooahs, so the yipping is nonstop -- but it didn't seem to upset her at all.)

So okay! I can breathe again! I'll keep going back to check on her, of course, but for the moment, I feel much more confident that she's going to be all right. And once Dorothy is healthy and safe in her new home, then I can be more calm and clearheaded in addressing these other issues at the shelter.

I wonder if there are professional consultants who troubleshoot animal shelters...
Sounds like nothing but good updates!!!! (as far as professional consultants- i'm not sure about the shelter you volunteer from wether it's considered a ch. 501 non-profit or its owned by the city. BUT at my shelter- if there were to be a big problem that nobody was taking care of -someone could go above the shelter /ac staff and talk directly to the guy who runs the public works division (animal control, sanitation and many other dpts fall under that category) and believe me- if someone complained to him we'd be in DEEP trouble- sooooooo perhaps if your shelter is run by the city and problems persist- you could anonymously address your concern to the head of the dpt in your city if need be)
post #23 of 28
Thread Starter 
Our shelter was founded by a philanthropic couple who also started a children's clinic in the area... wonderful people, both dead now. I think we're a 501(3)c... no city affiliation that I know of.

Sheesh, I didn't know about "silent" heats. That's what I'VE been in for quite a few long, lonely years now...
post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarolPetunia View Post
Sheesh, I didn't know about "silent" heats. That's what I'VE been in for quite a few long, lonely years now...
lol too funny!!!!!

(and yes in all seriousness- silent heats are VERY common in animals such as cats, dogs, and rabbits when not spayed.)
post #25 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarolPetunia View Post
As some of you know, I volunteer with a no-kill, non-profit shelter in the area, and have been doing so for over three years. The shelter has an absolutely stellar reputation. There are occasional problems there, just as there are everywhere... but overall, I've always had a lot of faith in the way it's run.

In the past year, though, I've become concerned -- and in the past ten days, I've gotten downright angry. I could be expecting too much, though... I don't know. So please, especially if you have shelter experience, tell me what you think:

Those of us who foster for the shelter had always been assured that our foster critters were getting checked for potentially contagious problems before they were handed over to us, unless we were otherwise informed. Sometimes they're too young or too ill for some kinds of testing and treatment, but we were told we would always be informed if that was the case, so we could take appropriate precautions for our own pets.

Late last year, it became apparent to me that in fact, animals were being taken in and put right back out into foster homes without so much as a flea-check. I raised the issue with the volunteer coordinator, and she and I had a talk with the intake person and one of the senior vet techs. I was assured that the issue would be resolved... but since then, they've had such rapid turnover in most of the positions related to the issue that things have only gotten more chaotic. I don't believe I have ever received the right paperwork with a foster, which makes it impossible to track the animal's medical history... and we've unknowingly taken home kittens with fleas, ticks, coccidia, severe URI... you name it.

On one occasion, I smelled the characteristic smell of coccidia on the poopy little kitten we'd brought home, so I went back the next day and told them I thought the kitten had coccidia. The vet tech shooed me out of the room, supposedly did some kind of test, and handed the kitten back to me, saying she was fine. Three days later, the poor little thing was so sick that I gathered my nerve and went back again. This time I stayed and watched the test done -- and sure enough, she did have coccidia, and they finally gave us some medicine for her.

That's the general attitude, by the way -- the vet techs seem vehemently resentful toward the volunteers and fosters, to the point of direct hostility at times. We're told in volunteer training that they appreciate it when we let them know about kittens who seem to have problems -- sneezing, runny eyes, etc. But when we actually do so, we're dismissed, as if we're too stupid for our observations to mean anything.

The six tiny kittens I took home last week were shockingly small and weak, but the staff told me, "Oh, don't worry, they'll do fine, just feed them when they cry." I asked for more detailed instruction, because I'd never fostered such tiny ones before, but all I got was "Don't turn the heating pad up any higher than Low."

As some of you know, one of those kittens died at the emergency vet that night, and they were all found to have, for god's sake, maggots infesting their intestinal tracts. The infestation was visible, to anyone who knew what he was looking at (which I didn't).

So clearly, nobody had done a thing for those poor kittens -- they just handed them over to someone who had no experience in fostering bottle babies at all. If they'd looked at them first, they would have known they needed some immediate treatment -- and that poor little girl I later took to the ER might have survived.

Now Dorothy, the stray I had been caring for in our back yard, is at the shelter awaiting adoption. I've been over there almost every day to check on her, and my name is on record as the person surrendering her, so it should not have been hard for them to contact me. But they didn't -- they just decided to send her for spaying! I could have told them she was already spayed (in fact, I had told them -- I had marked it on the forms), because it was obvious from her behavior during the two months I knew her before I finally got her a spot in the shelter. Plus, she's declawed, and that certainly ought to raise a question in their minds as to whether she was spayed at the same time!

But they opened her up anyway, subjected her to sedation, only to find that she was already spayed... and now she has an infection in the incision, a high fever requiring subcutaneous fluids, and a bad URI.

And I'm the one who placed her in their hands! I feel horrible for what she's being put through. I'm on the verge of going over there and just taking her back, taking her to our vet, getting her well, and finding her a home myself, however long it might take.

I can't afford it... between Dylan's injury and the ER visit for the foster kitten, we're down over $450 in the past two weeks. But I'm seriously thinking of doing it anyway, asking the vet to let me pay over time.

Am I wrong to expect better than this of our shelter? I know it's an incredibly high-pressure environment, with far more animals in need than can possibly be helped... I know that many of the people who work there do so because they like animals a lot better than people, and therefore they just aren't going to be pleasant to deal with... but it still seems to me that there's a carelessness over there, a literal lack of care, that was not the norm just a year or so ago.

Have I been deluding myself about the quality of our shelter? Is it just this way in shelters everywhere? And if not, if it should not be like this... what can I do? What should I do?
Are you talking about the shelter here in Plano on 15th street?? I have been in there several times looking at the cats. I may have even talked to you, the people seemed nice and friendly. But of course there are always the things you cannot see.
post #26 of 28
I don't know what to say. I know it can be hard especially if they are full. Animal Aid is a non kill non government funded shelter as well. And as much as it is hard if alot of cats are sick and medication costs money, they can't just ignore it. One of my favourite girls had just been spayed, and a few days later she jumped up on my lap, and a drop creamy yellow liquid came out of her vagina. I only noticed it because i was giving her cuddles and everyone else was at the other end in the kitchen or another office. If i hadn't of reported it she may have gotten even worse and died from infection In the end for completely different reasons she actually got pts for behavioural problems, she scratched one or two people and after all that time of good behaviour, they decided it was best after 2 scratches!!!

Sometimes i hate shelters. The only thing that i am thankful to shelters is that alot of people now have animals in their home who are loved. I think there are some questionable things, and just because you foster or volunteer, instead of being in a top rank, it doesnt matter. Anyone who looks after animals has a right to be worried if something isn't right.
post #27 of 28
Thread Starter 
No, P&A, it's not the Plano shelter... this is another one, and I shouldn't name it here in public. I'll PM you...

Dragoriana... oh, that must have been hard for you. They do get concerned at our shelter if a cat bites, but a scratch is no big deal at all. Usually, we just put our "psychokitties" in cages with warning signs, so only the initiated will handle them. I try to remember to wear my glasses when I'm there, so at least I won't get it in the eye.

I did get it in the mouth the other day, though. It was a kitten about 12 weeks old, lovely little blue and white bicolor, and he seemed fine at first -- but as I brought him up to my chest, he suddenly panicked and lashed out. One claw tore down my cheek, and the tip broke off in the corner of my mouth; another claw went right through my lip and into my gum! Hurt like the very dickens, and bled ever so dramatically!

Once I was cleaned up, I went back to make friends with the little guy... he was so scared, bless his heart. It's going to take some work. His siblings are much more relaxed than he is, though, so maybe their attitude will rub off.

Heading over there tomorrow to smuggle Dorothy some good organic cat food.
post #28 of 28
You don't expect cats to be perfectly behaved in the home even if they get trained. A kitten could be perfectly behaved at the shelter, but nice it gets home it's going to nip at a little kid and scratch furniture, that's what they do. And that's what adult cats do as well. God if shelters pts cats who scratched there would be a lot more room. But that would be a bad thing, they do deserve a chance. I think i told you guys about oddball as well. He was pure white like Chuckie, one yellow one blue eye (hence the name) and deaf. He was the most handsome boy i had ever seen. He was very friendly and played with the humans. After a while of being in the shelter he hated it there, and he started picking fights with a big fluffy cat and Oddball was pts because he couldn't be trusted outside his cage. And whenever he was in the cage he would meow and meow and meow. It was very loud for us but he didnt know. If only somoene had come in and picked him, a single cat household, he could have had a beautiful life.

Sometimes it just plain sucks *sighs*

I hope Dorothy is doing well. As someone else said, when you VISIT a shelter, it all seems very nice and friendly, and some of them genuinly are, but when you work there you get a real view.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: The Cat Lounge
TheCatSite.com › Forums › General Forums › The Cat Lounge › Reality Check: am I wrong to be upset with our shelter?