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Animal shelter staff

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 
I'm a bit upset about what I just witnessed at our local shelter, which is run entirely by volunteers. One of the cats, a very sweet 2-year-old male, has eosinophilic granuloma complex, which I'm familiar with, because JC has it, too. He has had several rounds of cortisone shots, and is being given omega 3 fatty acids (which was why I was there - I was dropping off a box of capsules for him, as they have helped JC). He has "rodent ulcers" on his tongue, and is not responding to treatment. Yesterday a young couple was at the shelter, and expressed an interest in adopting him. The woman in charge told them he had a "slight immunity problem, which will certainly clear up once he has a permanent home, and certainly can't get worse". She also said that he had to be with other cats so that he would "eat more", because "he's not a good eater, and needs the competition", so they should pick out a second cat. I understand that she wants as many cats as possible to find good, permanent homes, but I think she should have told them the truth. I interrupted, and told them about EGC, that while it could clear up, it might become a chronic problem, and that IMO the cat wasn't eating properly because of his sore tongue. I did add that he's very sociable with other cats, so a second cat would be a good idea. I'd love to see this cat adopted, because I think he's great and that his condition will improve once he's not one of 30 cats, but I don't think this woman was right in "fudging" the truth about his condition. We've had several former shelter pets, and have been lied to about their physical condition, problem behaviors and temperament. The couple is coming over to my house Wednesday to talk about EGC, so maybe there's still a chance they'll take him. However, I have a feeling that I'm going to be "persona non grata" at the shelter from now on. Should I have kept my mouth shut, and hoped that they would become so attached to him that they wouldn't bring him back as soon as the vet bills started adding up?
post #2 of 35
Personally I think you did the right thing, even though the people at the shelter may not agree. I think that they should tell the truth as much as possible about the cats they are adopting out so that people can make an informed decision. I also think that the people coming over to your house to learn more about this cat's condition is a very good sign! There are too many times when an animal is returned to a shelter because of non-disclosed physical or behavioral problems. I'm sure there are times when people adopt a pet and have to return it because the vet costs are simply more than they bargained for at that point in their lives.
post #3 of 35
Should I have kept my mouth shut, and hoped that they would become so attached to him that they wouldn't bring him back as soon as the vet bills started adding up?
Absolutely not. You were right to let the people know about the problems. As a former board member for the local shelter I can say it is extremely important to be honest with people. A bad experience creates two problems: 1) High probability the animal will be returned and 2) Bad PR. The people will surely talk to their friends, who will pass the word, about dishonest or deceptive experiences. There is no better press for adopting from the shelter than someone who has had a good experience and will send their friends to adopt.

However, I have a feeling that I'm going to be "persona non grata" at the shelter from now on.
If the shelter people have any sense they will appreciate your efforts to make sure the adopters know exactly what they're getting into before making a decision.

post #4 of 35
I also agree that you did the right thing telling them the truth about the cat . The last thing what that cat needs is being returnt after a while . The cat would suffer from that and would not know what in the world is going on and why he is back there . That would be really sad . Also for the shelter it is better to tell the people the truth . People wont come back if they find out that they have bin lied to and would make not a good reputation for the shelter at all . And who would suffer in the long run , yes the animals in there .
post #5 of 35
WOW it was great that you said something! If that cat had gone to a home that knew nothing about his condition it could have been detrimental to his health and/or he could end up stuck at the shelter again.

Who cares what they think? You did the right thing. I bet those people will be good parents too, since they're coming to talk to you about his condition!!
post #6 of 35
I believe you did the right thing.

I strongly believe that full disclosure allows the potential adopter to make a better-informed decision, and can help to prevent returns or abandonments.
post #7 of 35
i agree with the others, you should have said something, i think that PR is important, people talk and if they are lied to about something it would make them put a negitive spin on the shelter which would hurt the shelters reputation. So im gald you did the right thing,,,hats off to you!!! i hope they still decide to take the kitty
post #8 of 35
You did the right thing. Telling the truth is all part of public relations for a company. Just one lie will hurt it and the public are not very forgiving.

You did justice for the cat in question and you have given the couple a clearer picture of what to expect. I would rather be told the truth about an animal that I was about to adopt than rather to be lied to.

I speak from experience. You may know that I rescued Esper from the vet's surgery. But what I haven't mentioned is that Esper had a quite severe case of ear mites. It wasn't obvious to me at the time because her ears had been cleaned and I didn't find out until the next morning due to her scratching her ears. I rang the surgery and told them about the ear mites only to be told that the treatment that was given should have worked, that's why I wasn't told.

I lit up like a christmas tree at that point. I said that I had another indoor cat and that I didn't want the ear mites to spread. I also didn't appreciate the fact that the two cats would have to be separated for longer than anticipated. I then insisted on talking to the vet and for them to expect me in the next five minutes.

From that point in time I was able to get ear mite treatment for free for Esper and a preventative for Russell for free. Everything has worked out well but I do not trust the surgery anymore.
post #9 of 35
As I posted earlier, I very strongly believe you did the right thing. After thinking about it, I was wondering about the experience of the other volunteer? I've seen quite a few people that are so desparate to save as many critters as they can that they push, conjole, and mislead potential adoptors, not realizing how badly this can come back to bite. While it's very possible her heart was in the right place, maybe the other person needs some additional training to understand the impact of what she was doing.

post #10 of 35
Thread Starter 
The woman is very experienced - she has been volunteering for about twenty years. I called her this afternoon - she's a bit p.o.'d and said she doesn't think the EGC will be a problem. The cat has granulomas on his lips, and on and under his tongue that have not gone away at all. The cortisone shots are fairly expensive, and since they're not working, he'll probably have to be put on "the pill" for cats (megestrolacetate) next. I've been taking over expensive cat food for him, because he eats so little that I'm worried about malnourishment. The potential adopters also need to know that at least for the time being, they're going to have fairly high (about $2.50 - $3.00 a day for canned food) food costs. I think the woman is particularly angry because I'm not a regular volunteer (cat allergy - I can't take more than two at a time, and have to use an inhaler when I'm at the shelter for a few minutes). I'm "sponsoring" this cat because of his health problem. I'd like to adopt him myself, but that's impossible with JC.Keep your fingers crossed that the couple take him.
post #11 of 35
The woman is very experienced - she has been volunteering for about twenty years
That's pretty sad. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to say much for the organization. She needs to learn to be honest with potential adopters. Is there anyone there you can discuss this with?

I admire your decision to sponsor this cat. I hope things work out.

post #12 of 35
Thread Starter 
The situation is a bit hard to explain. When I moved here 21 years ago, I joined the local humane society, which covered an area with about 75,000 inhabitants. There were so many personality conflicts and internal squabbles that I quit after a few years and joined the humane society in the city where I work (population 650,000, public funds for animal protection). About two years after I quit, the local humane society split into 5 or 6 different groups, covering areas with between 3,000 and 36,000 inhabitants. The local group gets no financial support from the two towns it now covers (although my town donates the use of a condemned house as a "cat home"). The splinter groups seem to always be competing with each other as far as donations and the number of adoptions are concerned. The staff members are all volunteers, and are constantly struggling to raise enough money to cover costs. An adopted cat or dog means one less mouth to feed, and fewer inoculations to pay for. The woman I'm bitching about puts in an enormous amount of time and effort to find homes for the animals, and to raise money. As a non-member, my contribution is limited to food donations and sponsorships for animals with problems I have experience with (hyperactivity and EGC in cats, arthritis in cats and dogs, dogs' skin problems, epilepsy and cryptoorchidism with resultant tissue damage). To be fair, I have to say that I have been at loggerheads with this woman concerning adoption policies before: she won't give animals to senior citzens, and won't allow families with kids under 6 to adopt cats, so she apparently has some principles. I fail to understand why a 65 or 70-year-old shouldn't be allowed to adopt a 13-year-old dachshund whose owner has died, or why a family with a 4-year-old shouldn't take in a very docile pussy cat that is totally non-aggressive, but then we've arrived at the subject of differences of opinion again.
post #13 of 35

Just wondering, doesn't the organistation you belong to have set guidelines for volunteers and members alike to follow when it comes to finding forever homes for the animals? It seems strange that this woman would be allowed to decide and act as she does. If it's something that she does often, then personally I would mention it to a supervisor.

Any welfare organisation relies on the goodness of the community. By not telling the truth hurts it immensely.
post #14 of 35
Thread Starter 
No guidelines in writing, and no real supervision - those are two of the reasons I'm no longer a member there, and pay my membership dues to an organization that has both. Everything is ad hoc - but the animals are off the streets, are warm and get enough to eat.
I'm still hopeful that Norman is going to find a home - the girl called me to confirm our "appointment" tomorrow, and said that she and her s.o. have been reading up on EGC on the Internet. I've also found an Internet shop that sells the "high performance food" he's getting at a lower price than the local vets. I just ordered a case of it, so if they take him, that will be my present to them.
post #15 of 35
Oh dear!

I don't know how you do it, but my hats off to you jcat. If it were me, I think I would have formed a revolt and organised guidelines and nominate a supervisor or quit in total frustration.

**Sending warm fuzzy vibes to Norman and lots of luck**

You're so sweet by providing them with the food he needs. It's a good sign that the girl rang up to confirm the appointment with you after researching on the internet. **fingers crossed**
post #16 of 35
Thread Starter 
Norman has a home! His new "parents" came over this afternoon to talk about his condition, and afterwards we went to the shelter (I wanted to kiss him goodbye) and they signed the adoption papers for him and for a little female called Becca! I'm really happy for him. The people said they had fallen in love with him at first sight, loved black cats, and wanted to help him. I was also a little worried about him because the black dogs and cats seem to be the last ones adopted - maybe people really are superstitious. Anyway, things have turned out for him after all, and Becca has found a home, too, just in time to miss the "Christmas adoption ban" that is usual here. I can go visit him when the cat food I ordered arrives.
post #17 of 35
Norman has a home!
That's wonderful news. And, since the people know what they're getting into it's a good bet he won't ever be returned!!!

I'm sorry you had to see some of the ugly side of the politics of shelters. Unfortunately this happens in all to many charity organizations.

I can understand not adopting young animals (under 4 months) to houses with small children. (This is a pretty common practice since an animal can't receive a rabies vaccine until 4 months - should the worst occur, the after bite treatments are not effective in very young children because of their underdeveloped immune systems.) What I can't understand is the "no animals at all" practice. As for adopting to elderly people, many shelters have had outstanding success with "older animals for older people" programs, so I don't understand that restriction either. There is also a very real possibility of a lawsuit on this issue, and the shelter would absolutely lose, and charges may be filed, since this is a violation of Federal Civil Rights laws (age discrimination!)

As I've said before, you absolutely did the right thing.

post #18 of 35
Thread Starter 
I don't think Germany has any laws covering age discrimination; at least, I've never heard of any. "Older pets for older people" would be wonderful, but most shelters here will only let a senior citizen have a pet if a much younger family member co-signs the adoption papers and a form saying that they will take the pet over themselves if the owner dies or has to go into a nursing home. And they really insist on it being a family member. My boss's last dog died when she (the boss) was 66. She went to a couple of shelters, as she wanted to take in an older Lab. When she couldn't adopt, I offered to sign, but that wasn't allowed. The poor woman is childless, and has now been without a dog for ten years. She could have gone to a breeder, of course, but she wanted a homeless pet. It's illogical. Suppose the owner does die, after two or three years, and the pet is returned to the shelter. Isn't it better to have been away from the shelter for those years, than to have been left there the entire time? Most people are not willing to take older dogs or cats.
What is positive about the shelters here is that they are all "no-kill shelters", and also attempt to find homes for animals from countries with euthanasia policies, like Spain or Portugal.
post #19 of 35
I don't think Germany has any laws covering age discrimination
Sorry, I didn't look at where you are located and I misunderstood from one of your earlier posts and for some reason thought you were in the Midwest US.

I'm not familiar with German laws, other than their controversial anti-pit bull laws. It might be worth looking into the laws there.

post #20 of 35
Originally posted by jcat
Norman has a home!
That's terrific. And he even has a friend.

I never thought about the rabies vaccine. I don't think it's even offered by many vets over here. They say that there's not a problem of Australia with rabies. But I always point out the bats that carry a form of rabies and people working with any bats are required to have the rabies vaccine. Then I get told I'm over-reacting.

Anyhow, it's great to hear that Norman and Becca have a new home.
post #21 of 35
There's not supposed to be any rabies in Australia, Great Britian, or in the US Hawaiian. It does seem odd that anyone working with bats requires a vaccine. In our area bats are considered a rabies vector, as are racoons, foxes, and skunks. My state wildlife rehab permit specifically indicates I'm not allowed to rehab any of these. Oddly, all rabies cases in recent years have been with the racoon variant of the disease, and no bat has been found with rabies in many, many years.

post #22 of 35
After looking at things a little closer....

Well the virus in Australian bats is called Australian Bat Lyssavirus, (ABL). It's closely related to the classic rabies virus. And the rabies vaccine protects against ABL. Two deaths have been linked to ABL.

So far, it is assumed that all bats in Australia carry the virus.

Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABL) Though, Adobe Acrobat Reader is required. It's a PDF document.
post #23 of 35
So far, it is assumed that all bats in Australia carry the virus.
How sad, and scary.

post #24 of 35
Thread Starter 
A man in Scotland was bitten by a rabid bat last year - so much for the UK being free of rabies. It was really a shock to everybody. People have also worried ever since the Channel Tunnel opened that rats could carry rabies from France to England through the tunnel, since we do have rabies in Continental Europe.
George, you really didn't misunderstand - I usually spend every August in Nebraska, visiting family.
post #25 of 35
George, you really didn't misunderstand - I usually spend every August in Nebraska, visiting family.
Thanks, but it was really a blind leap on my part. I have dealt with people having similar problems in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and just "assumed".

A man in Scotland was bitten by a rabid bat last year
That is very scary. I hope he was treated and recovered, it's a nasty, nasty disease with a miserable death to anyone infected and untreated. Many years ago a teenage boy was supported through and recovered from the active disease. It was such a huge event it made all the scientific journals. Unfortunately, the medical world has had very little luck in duplicating his good fortune. I was planning to get a vaccine since I work with wildlife, but it's extremely expensive (over $600 per injection - an initial series of is required and boosters I believe every year or so.)

post #26 of 35
Thread Starter 
The guy did recover, luckily. I agree - it is a very scary disease. Our area is now supposedly free of it, but it was really bad in the eighties. Twice I saw rabid animals shot by the police. The first was a doe with the "traditional" form. She was stumbling around on a rural road, foaming at the mouth and convulsing. The second time was even more frightening. I work in center city Stuttgart (population over 600,000), and there was a fox outside our school that was acting very docile and lethargic. The police didn't want to take any chances, and shot it. It tested positive for rabies. I hate to think what would have happened if somebody had decided it was tame and attempted to touch it.
Wow - over $600 per injection really blows my mind!
post #27 of 35
We usually have rabies in racoons around here (central NC), but also had a fox about a year ago only a few blocks from our house. It's not that frequent, but still always a concern.

We have a man here in town that keeps trapping racoons and bringing them into the animal shelter. He claims they are pests around his house, and so he's been issued a permit to trap (on his own property.) The problem is that the shelter must euthanize any racoon brought in, no other legal option. None have tested postive. He recently caught a skunk in his trap. He brought that in too, claiming he was "saving it". Skunks are also required to be euthanized. It also tested negative. I find it all pretty sad.

Yes, $600 is pretty stiff, but I'll probably break down and pay it at some point.

post #28 of 35

Doesn't the government subsidise it in any way? I would have thought a concession would be made given that it's not in a rabies free area.
post #29 of 35
Doesn't the government subsidise it in any way?
Nope, and the reality is there's on reason for the government to underwrite the cost. When I was on the board at the shelter we paid for three people to have rabies vaccines (two supervisors and the vet tech.) One was always available and these were the only ones allowed to handle rabies suspect animals (dead or alive.) My rehab permit is by my own choice, and it specifically excludes and requires I do not take in a species considered to be a rabies vector. The rabies vaccine is not a standard vaccine and also is my choice.

post #30 of 35
I see. It makes sense now.
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