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Need opinions/feedback, please

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I'm looking for some feedback regarding an unspoken (at least for now) difference of opinion I have with the coordinator of the small TNR group I volunteers with. Our primary focus is TNR, which I completely support, but we inevitably end up doing some rescue as well. Since we don't have a shelter, the rescued cats end up being housed in a foster home, usually our coordinator's, until they're adopted. In most cases, these are tame, abandoned pets who've really struggled to fend for themselves in the neighborhoods. However, our coordinator has become increasingly determined to return them to where they came from as long as they'll be fed, regardless of the situation. She keeps emphasizing that our mission is TNR, not rescue, and that she doesn't want to turn into a shelter where we warehouse cats. I totally understand where she's coming from, but really find myself struggling with returning some of the cats.

The latest one in question is a very friendly two-year-old, male, who was abandoned by his owner. He was rescued after our coordinator found him attacked by a dog with serious injuries to his tail.
He'd been front declawed, but not neutered. An elderly woman in the neighborhood had been feeding him. The cat has since been fixed and his injuries have healed. It's been a month or so and we've had no luck finding him a home. We've tried Petfinder, flyers, newspaper ads, etc...Today, I'm taking him to an adoption fair. But, our coordinator says if he's not adopted in the next couple of weeks, he's going back to the site. That's just wrong.
A declawed cat has no business being outside. Look what happened to him before. Sure, he was being fed, but what if something happens to this elderly woman. Then what happens to the cat?

It would be irresponsible, and cruel, to put this guy back. Granted, cat rescue
may not be our primary mission, but once we rescue them I believe we're responsible for doing what's best for them and that's not putting them back into situation where they're at risk. Guess that's easy for me to say since our
coordinator's the one responsible for their care. But, I'm tired of these ultimatums! Guess it's time to speak up.

Any ideas or feedback? Thanks for listening.
post #2 of 13
You are in a hard place. I certainly agree that a declawed cat should never be left outside. And that goes for elderly cats, very young cats and any cat with a problem or disability. Of course, it goes without saying that they are usually the ones most difficult to home. Can your co-ordinator not agree to looking at them on a case by case basis? Maybe decided by committee?Priorities may have to be made, but maybe she could accept the principle that some cats really need to be in a shelter or foster home.
post #3 of 13
Is there any other rescue group in your area that you can work with? Say, if they get a cat that is obviously feral and would do better in a colony, or they get a call about a situation that is more TNR that they could turn it over to you, and if you get a situation like this where it is obvious that the cat should not be returned to a site they take him for adoption. At the least, I would suggest having a policy in place stating under which circumstances a cat should not be returned, such as the circumstances Jenny suggested - declawed, elderly, young kittens, disabled/sick.

While your group's primary mission is TNR, the overall goal is cat welfare. Putting a declawed cat with no defenses back into a situation where he has already been attacked is not in keeping with this cat's welfare, IMO.
post #4 of 13
eilcon-
I completely agree with Heidi: "While your group's primary mission is TNR, the overall goal is cat welfare."

I'm 100% with you - putting a declawed cat back outdoors to fend for himself is cruel, inhumane and totally irresponsible.

Sadly, a month or so isn't a long time to be looking for a home for this poor little guy. It's just math and we all know the equation: too many adult kitties and not enough homes for them all. To top it off, you're smack in the middle of kitten season. There's no competition for most people unfortunately when it comes to choosing between a kitten and a cat. The hard truth is that it may be several more months before he gets adopted. You have to be relentless and keep plugging away. Adoption days at large pet supply stores like Petsmart can be helpful. (Is that what you meant when you mentioned adoption fair?) Local rescue groups use the store on weekends to hold adoptions. If you have such a store near you contact the groups and ask if they'd be gracious enough to allow you to bring this little boy in. Beg/plead/cry if you have to.

Who is caring for all these cats that are being released? Are they being supplied with shelters?

You're right - you do need to speak up. Some of the other volunteers probably feel the same way. Jennyranson has a good suggestion - you all need to set a policy about dealing with exceptional cases - elderly, young, injured, etc.
The coordinator may be getting burned out, not unusual. She needs to step back, and examine her heart. You can't get so blinded by the "mission" that you ignore the needs of the very cats you're there to help.

Under no circumstances should that declawed kitty be put back outside. That's unconscionable.

Good luck eilcon - thanks for working so hard for these kitties.
post #5 of 13
As I have always understood it, the idea behind successfull TNR is not only TNR but combined with taking in of some cats: the apparently tame, the young who can be tame with only little work.

This cat in that exemple is striking example for cat who should be taken in and never returned. a) obviously tame. b) as declawed - being a indoorcat, he cant manage as homeless cat.

The big problem of yours group is you dont have fosterhomes/ "on duty" homes whatever. The charimans home the only disponible.
And you dont have connections to where adopt the tame cats. - of course, as your policy is almost never to adopt so usually you dont need...

I would propose to broaden your policies: return the ferals/semiferals who manage well outside and who are perhaps not so easy to foster (partly a myth, but this is another story).
Take always in the tame and the young. This means build up some foster / "on duty" homes. And build up connections for adoptions.

And take in as many as possible of all the inbetween... but it is probably something for a little later on when you have got some shape on your work..

By the way. If you cant get a home to this declawed, it is more merciful to give him an quick and easy death than make his last time a misery and give him a horrible death.
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for your responses and support! Heidi's comment "While your group's primary mission is TNR, the overall goal is cat welfare," kind of says it all and I'm going to remind Millie, our coordinator, of that when I see her this afternoon.

As we speak, the cat in question, Gabe, is at a Petsmart adoption fair. He's got some competition, though. When I dropped him off everyone was crowded around the kittens and ignoring the adult cats. The fact that he's solid white, declawed and extremely friendly are in his favor.

You guys brought up some great ideas which I'll definitely share with Millie.
I agree we need to come up with some kind of policy. We're a really small group (maybe 5 core people) with some new volunteers soon to come on board. There's never really been a need for written policy before because of our size, but I think something needs to be developed as we continue to grow and get more and more requests for assistance.

We do cooperate on a pretty regular basis with a couple of the other no kill shelters. I know Millie's reluctant to ask them for help because they're overwhelmed right now too, but this is a case that seems to warrant it. Millie assures me that the elderly woman will feed and care for Gabe at the site, including giving him shelter in the winter. She also says will keep a "lifeline" open with the women to monitor the situation. To me, that's not good enough. Gabe should not be outside, period!

There's no way I'm letting him go back!
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Just wanted to share that Gabe got a great home this afternoon at the adoption fair.

I also had a long talk with our coordinator this afternoon. She's agreeable to looking at sitatuations like his on a case to case basis and I'm going to be working on some written guidelines. So we'll see how things go. Again, many thanks for the ideas!
post #8 of 13
I am so glad that Gabe got a home! I read this section with such interest, I think that once my last teenager is out of the house I may look into fostering or helping in some kind of way. We have a huge feral cat problem in the city so much so it is covered on the local news at least once or twice a year. God bless you ladies and men who do this wonderful work.
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by amy jo
I am so glad that Gabe got a home! I read this section with such interest, I think that once my last teenager is out of the house I may look into fostering or helping in some kind of way. We have a huge feral cat problem in the city so much so it is covered on the local news at least once or twice a year. God bless you ladies and men who do this wonderful work.
Thanks so much. You should definitely consider fostering or volunteering when you're able. I've been volunteering for a year-and-a-half and have found it to be incredibly rewarding. We have major feral cat problem where I live too and trap/neuter/return is proving to be the most effective and compassionate way to address it.
post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by eilcon
Just wanted to share that Gabe got a great home this afternoon at the adoption fair.






I also had a long talk with our coordinator this afternoon. She's agreeable to looking at sitatuations like his on a case to case basis and I'm going to be working on some written guidelines. So we'll see how things go. Again, many thanks for the ideas!

YESSS!!! How wonderful for this lucky little guy, and you too!!! You just made my night!

Glad to hear your coordinator was receptive to the idea - good luck with those guidelines
post #11 of 13
I am so pleased to hear that. And I am so glad that the talk with your coordinator went well.
post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Just wanted to share that I heard from Gabe's new owner last night via email. It's only been a few days, but he reports that Gabe has already settled in and is getting along well with his two other cats - a Bengal and a Siamese - boy does he have his hands full! He describes Gabe as a "sweetheart" and a "great kitty" (I already knew that!) and said he LOVES to be stroked and brushed. Gabe is already sleeping with him too! Another happy ending!
post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by amy jo
I am so glad that Gabe got a home! I read this section with such interest, I think that once my last teenager is out of the house I may look into fostering or helping in some kind of way. We have a huge feral cat problem in the city so much so it is covered on the local news at least once or twice a year. God bless you ladies and men who do this wonderful work.
I am also glad that things turned out so good for Gabe. Amy Jo is right , all of the cities have a huge problem with homeless cats who are frightened of people, and need most of all to be fed and given water . You can ride around at night and see the poor things wandering the streets and the alleys trying to find food. I hope more people will become aware of this problem with the many pet forums about homeless pets.


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