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So... should I go back?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I recently moved from one town to another; and now I can't see my ferals anymore. They're being taken care of by the people who've always taken care of them, since long before I came; but I miss seeing them.

So today, because I was going through cat withdrawal, I went to the local animal shelter (Xenia, Ohio) to see if they needed volunteers. They told me that they hadn't organized a team of volunteers, that they'd need to assign a staff member to it, and didn't have a staff member to spare.

They did, however, let me go in and see the animals, which I did, because I just couldn't resist.

The oldest cat in the place was only five months old... they were kittens, really. They had evidently been chosen for their looks and personality, because every kitten in the place stuck a paw through the cages to me as I passed near. They're nice cages--plastic floors, with a cat bed, toy, and litter box in each; but there wasn't any place to hide. The kittens seemed almost hyperactive, a bit hysterical... where do they find a quiet place to sleep? The one kitten asleep was scrunched into a corner of a cage, trying desperately to get some shut-eye but constantly getting pounced on by a cagemate.

There were four dogs... I didn't stay with them long; their room smelled so horrible. It wasn't just a wet-dog smell; it was more of a rotting-meat and poop smell... The dogs seemed healthy enough and the floors were pretty clean though. I'm not sure if this is normal for any place that has a lot of dogs in one place. But I couldn't stay... I can't imagine how those dogs stand it.

I talked to some of the staff, and confirmed my suspicon that this was a kill shelter... most of the cats who are euthanized, they told me, are ferals who would be unadoptable. Older cats, they say, also don't have very much chance of getting adopted. They want to start a TNR program, to neuter ferals once a month; but they don't have the staff.

Naturally I wanted to take these kittens home... it was like an orphanage for cats. But I'm a college student who'd have a hard time paying for neutering, much less vet bills each year; and what sort of home could I give a cat, when I live with three big dogs and move constantly?

So... I asked if I could come back, even if I couldn't adopt a cat. They told me that, yes, the cats would benefit from being handled and socialized; and that I could come back if I wanted...

So... should I? I mean, it's a kill shelter; and I don't like the way the dog room smelled, or the way they say "we don't have enough staff" (admittedly, it's probably true) when it comes to organizing volunteers or a TNR program. And those kittens are plenty friendly--and so young, only five months old at the oldest, that they'd capture anyone's heart.

Could I do any good by going back and playing with the cats (and dogs, if I can take 'em outside)? Or would I just be encouraging them to go on the way they've been doing?
post #2 of 23
Yes...I would go back..and you know what...I would contact Alley Cat Allies and see if they have suggestions on starting a feral cat group. Here is some advice from Best Friends:
post #3 of 23
Callista - your post brought tears to my eyes, but the stronger emotion was admiration for the great compassion that you have for animals
Yes, please, please go back - even a short visit to a condemned man can be the best visit of his life. And TNR1 has such a great idea - reach out to AlleyCat Allies & see if you can start your own feral rescue group!
Please keep us updated - I would love to see you write a weekly or monthly update, and let us know about the challenges and the successes that you encounter. I am sending {{{prayers and vibes}}} for your encouragement and great results. You are an answer to a prayer for that shelter
post #4 of 23
I would go back and do whatever you can for htose poor animals who are there. And if enough other people volunteer, they will have the staff to do something more! Good luck and I applaud your will and compassion.
post #5 of 23
i would go back, if they are shortstaffed the cats might not get that much attention, so you would be doing a good thing. And maybe try and convince people to go there for cats, anything to try and help them. Even helping one woudl be a big thing.
post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 
Yet another visit... two of the cats have been adopted since last time; that's about the only encouraging part of my visit today.

There are three more cats in the adoption block... they're tiny eight-week-old kittens, one black female and two tiger-striped males. They cry constantly but seem to have had some human handling, because they will stop crying if picked up, though they don't really like being held.

These little ones are too young to be in such a place!! At least they're all three very adorable youngsters... hopefully they will steal someone's heart before the impersonal nature of life in a shelter turns them shy and stressed, as I've seen with some of the older cats.

There's an upper respiratory infection making its way through the shelter... three cats (one of them is one of the new kittens) have it now.

One of the cats, a little torbie girl maybe four months old, has an eye that is inflamed and almost gummed shut. I asked about vet care for her; but they have the cats checked out by a vet when they first come to the shelter, and not at all thereafter.

So they aren't going to find a vet for her, though she's had this eye problem since I first visited the shelter. Today she was trembling for some reason... I don't know why; I hope it isn't chills from a fever. I have my fingers crossed, hoping she was just nervous when I was handling her... Her chart, under "Eyes", says "normal". I'm not a vet, but you don't have to be one to tell that she is sick and needs a vet.

I brought cat treats... only one of the cats was interested (though they were a big hit with him). I suppose it's the usual "This isn't my normal food, so I won't eat it" catness. The dangle toy I got was a big hit, though. These are all young cats, and playful... older cats don't have a chance of being adopted, apparently, so they aren't even put in the adoption room...

My heart is really breaking for these little cats... I feel so helpless. What can I do with only three visits a week, in the middle of a loud, stressful shelter, to help these cats? It's not their fault they weren't wanted.
post #7 of 23
Does the shelter post all the cats on a website?? If not, you could offer to take pictures and run a petfinder site for them. Regarding URIs....unfortunately, in a shelter it is very difficult to reduce the spread of URIs unless they change the ventalation system. What kind of litterpans are they using?? Stainless steel for both bowls and litterpans are recommended.

As for the girl with the eye issue....your best bet would be to take her to the vet....however, perhaps you could at least take a photo of her eye and get a vet's opinion. Most shelters do not have funds or resources to cover vet care while in the shelter.

I know it's heartbraking..but just remember that you are making a difference for these cats by being there and handling them. Tip: bring a small antibacterial hand sanitizer with you and use that between touching cats. You may even want to leave a few at the shelter.

post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 
Funny you should say that, because that's exactly what I offered... taking pictures and writing descriptions of cats is quite within my abilities. They said that I'd need to talk to someone else about it (the people who were there today apparently weren't in charge) so I'll see if I can hunt up someone who can authorize me to do that. I've actually already taken pictures, and I wrote some quick descriptions of personalities for about half the cats, just because I figured I might show them to friends, and because they're so sweet that if they're put to sleep I just want somebody to remember them. I just hope I can afford to have the film developed.

There are eleven cats in the adoption room now, and about twenty in the back room... they won't let me into the back room because I'm not a volunteer, technically--just a "visitor". I have absolutely no influence, and no permission to do anything but pet and play with the cats... I've been there only three times now, for about four or five hours each, so I don't even have seniority! They think I'm weird because I'm going there and not adopting a cat, apparently.

The thing with going to a vet... is paying for a vet... I'm in financial difficulty right now, because I work only part time and take correspondence classes via the Internet. It's come to the point that I can't pay to buy any meat, make-up, or new clothing, and I share a retned house with three other people and ride a bicycle because I can't afford a car--the shelter is only six miles away, so I can get there by bike. I don't think there's any extra to cut off my budget, unless I get an unexpected donation from Mom.

I know that sounds like excuses but I don't think I could scrape together more than $20... I wonder if they'd even let me pay for a vet?...

Hand sanitizer is a good idea. I'd been washing my hands, but there wasn't any soap, only dishwashing liquid... I have a couple bottles; I'll pack one.

The litter pans are gray plastic, with high sides to prevent the cats spraying litter all over the place. They hide in them sometimes when they want privacy... I saw a woman wash them; it's done with the dishwashing liquid and water.
post #9 of 23

Where are these poor babies at?? Maybe if you put a plea on this site, maybe a few people will help??

It literally brings tears to my eyes that older cats are just PTS because their older,, the poor babies... I'm seriously soo sad after reading this post.

What is wrong with our world today,, why are people like this??? Why don't more people care?? The ones of us who do are called crazy cat ladies or people. It's just not fair.. I'm sorry.. It hurts my feelings and makes me soo mad!!!!!!! Heck I'm gonna drive 3 and half hours just to save a cat at a shelter in Kentucky. I just don't see why more people don't care as much as we all do...

Keep pushing to put those babies on petfinder.. Please......
post #10 of 23
The litter pans are gray plastic, with high sides to prevent the cats spraying litter all over the place. They hide in them sometimes when they want privacy... I saw a woman wash them; it's done with the dishwashing liquid and water.
Oh..this is not good....plastic deteriorates over time and no matter how well you clean them.....over time they are just begging for germs. Especially when you have different cats coming and going....hmmm.

You know what I would do....start a fundraiser for this it the take "XXX" to the vet fund. Perhaps you could sell brownies or cupcakes (pretty inexpensive to make) or simply ask around.

Another idea.....create donation boxes that you leave around town. Make sure the shelter name and address are on the box. Call it "Loose change to save lives". That money could pay to cover the costs of developing the pictures or buying new litterboxes.

Know any friends who like to knit/quilt?? Have them make nice blankets for the cats (just make sure that the cats can't get their claws stuck in the blanket)

Hold drop off days where people can bring cans of food, litter...really anything you need. You could even hold a drop off day at the local petsmart or supermarket and have people buy an extra can or litter scoop etc. to donate.

post #11 of 23
Callista - you're AWESOME! You bike 6 miles to make a difference - YUP! I can already foresee the great possibilities in your future You really do have the compassion and commitment to make a HUGE difference in the lives of the shelter animals. Maybe you could contact your local county or city councilperson and ask for suggestions on getting a volunteer organization started, or how to influence more funding for the shelter. You might try contacting our local rescue group and see if they have any suggestions - the group was formed by a husband and wife team and is truly a grassroots organization that has been extremely successful - a 91% reduction in euthanasias. Another very effective group is the PAWS in Paragould, Arkansas - I took some donations by when I was visiting the area, and was so impressed by the accomplishments of 1 lady & her 2 relatives Another grassroots effort that has been incredibly blessed.
Perhaps you could do a post for the Cat Lounge, where there seems to be more "action" and ask for suggestions on how to start your own cat-rescue group.
At any rate, I'll continue to check for updates, and I will add the kitty with the eye problem to my prayer list tonight
post #12 of 23
I'm curious where this shelter is... love everyone's ideas for raising money and helping these animals. I, too, am teary-eyed from hearing your story. You are doing a wonderful thing, my heart goes out to you. Best of luck, our love is with you.
post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 
The shelter is in Xenia, Ohio. There have been problems with not enough tax money to go around in Greene County lately--the libraries had a hiring freeze for ages, and weren't open nearly enough--so it's no wonder that they're understaffed and don't have a volunteer program. I overheard, when a man was giving up his 5-year-old golden Lab, and asked what the dog's chances of being adopted were, that the dog's age counted against him, but that there are rescue groups operating in the area, and sometimes they go to the shelter and take animals in. (Incidentally, would you folks mind sending prayers/vibes for the dog? He's a really beautiful, energetic animal, and it was obvious that the man felt horrible about giving him up. I think it was something about not having time to take care of the dog properly because he had young children.)

This is their Web site, though it hasn't been updated in ages and none of the animals there are still at the shelter:

And... you will never guess what happened!! Read on:

I recently moved. I had completely forgotten about the security deposit I'd made on my last apartment; but today I got a letter in the mail--my security deposit, less only $15 for some superficial scratches on the walls...

So, unexpected money = possibly paying for vet bills!! I am going to the shelter again the day after tomorrow and I'll see whether they'll work with me on getting that little tortie some medical care.
post #14 of 23
I was going to suggest a great no-kill in Kettering until I read that you don't have a car.

What you're doing is great! Regardless of how we feel about the shelter itself, those cats and dogs have another kind, loving human in their lives now and that, when we get right down to it, is what really matters!
post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 
Well, I visited again today... out of eleven cats last Thursday, there are only six now. The back room has only three, down from something like ten (estimate). One of the ones gone was the little torbie that I was worried about. I asked about her, and they said that if she had been in the adoption room, she had probably been adopted out. But, when I told them I had written down her ID number and could get them to check the records, they said, "You may not want to know what's happened to her." I fear the worst, hope for the best...

But they told me that a lot of the cats had been adopted recently... I so, so hope that is true.

The thing that makes me worry that it mightn't be true is that I've seen not a single cat being adopted while there (I've been there five afternoons over the last two weeks) and heard it said only once that a certain cat had been adopted. Also, when asked how many cats they have to put to sleep, they shy away from numbers as though they were the plague... usually it's "Well, if the cat's in our adoption room, it's got a pretty good chance"... no duh, because kittens are the only ones that end up in that room!

Also, the cats in the back room, where the visitors aren't allowed to go (I let a kitten "escape" into that room, then visited it today while retrieving the kit), have gone down in number quite a bit. There are only three left now, all young adults (1-5 years, looked like).

And is it coincidence that three of the five cats that disappeared had upper respiratory infections? Or that one of the remaining two was quite shy?

Do people at shelters lie about how many animals they have to put to sleep, or at least evade the question?

This is one of the times I absolutely wish I didn't have asperger's... I can't read people, and if I could read whether or not they were trying to "save my feelings" from their faces, then maybe I'd know what happened to all those cats... Maybe I'd have the courage to insist on knowing their fates; but as it is, my heart pounds just asking whether I can do bios for for their cats (an issue that's still up in the air).

They must think I'm weird. I go there, I play with the cats but never adopt one, I talk in a monotone and use big words, I relate to cats more than people, I'm a female with a buzz cut, and I ask touchy questions with what must be obvious nervousness...

Maybe I should wear a T-shirt that says "ASPIE"... but then they probably wouldn't know what that meant. "NERD", maybe... that's a common aspie stereotype...

'Scuse me while I crawl under my blankets and attempt to stop being trapped between hope and sadness while ruminating about where those extra cats went...
post #16 of 23
Truthfully....I would keep asking...because even if it isn't what you want to's what you NEED to know in order to figure out how to help. Do they have weekend adoption days?? I would agree that it must be odd to not have a single adoption while you are there and then be told that they have had a lot of adoptions recently.

post #17 of 23
I would go back there - with a stick to beat some sense into someone in charge. Surely SOMEONE is in charge???? Even the most underfunded shelter I know of is ALWAYS happy to have volunteers do anything and everything they can for their animals.

How about going to your local representative's (councilman/woman, mayor, etc) office and see what they can tell you about this place?? If it is getting any public funds at all, there should be records and a chain of command. As a taxpayer, you are entitled to know what is being done with your tax dollars.

I'll gladly volunteer some internet research time to try and help you, if you want. Just PM me and we'll tag team 'em!
post #18 of 23
OK folks, how about an e-mail campaign to the fine County Commissioners of Greene County? for Marilyn Reid, for Ralph Harper and for Rick Perales.

You do not have to be a resident of the County to speak your mind to their elected representatives. You can speak as a concerned citizen, mentioning to worldwide ability of internet forums to speak out for worthy causes as well as their ability to point out local isues that may have taken a back burner in these trying times. Mention our friend Callista and her family are taxpayers in Greene County, and that we are encouraging others to speak out on shelters that are not living up their mission statement. Green County's is posted on their website, so if they are going to publicize what they want to do for the community, they need to live up to it!

You CAN fight "City Hall" so to speak.
post #19 of 23
I live about an hour and half from Greene County,, Xenia Ohio... I might go up there this weekend and see what cats they have. We've been looking at adopting another one, when Mondae died.. So maybe this is a good option for us to check out!!!!

We'll check it out this weekend Callista!!!

post #20 of 23
I called Xenia Ohio, they have tons of kittens and a few adult cats.. They are $30 dollars, and they don't spay the girls, but they neuter the boys.

They don't do pictures, and stuff they said the reason was because as soon as they put them on petfinder or the paper those cats get adopted (well duh),, theirs other cats!!

Sounds like the don't have someone computer literated to keep the website updated. I would think that would make their business so much easier...

They are open on the weekends from 12 to 4 on Saturday and Sunday!
post #21 of 23
They are $30 dollars, and they don't spay the girls, but they neuter the boys.
Ok...I don't understand why they do not spay the girls....

post #22 of 23
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by TNR1 View Post
Ok...I don't understand why they do not spay the girls....

The female's surgery is more complicated and thus more expensive. It all comes down to money, really.... money they don't have much of.
post #23 of 23
Originally Posted by Callista View Post
The female's surgery is more complicated and thus more expensive. It all comes down to money, really.... money they don't have much of.
Right...but it's the females that will keep the shelter filling up.....what about asking local vets if they would be willing to offer a free spay prior to adoption. Or working with rescue groups to place the females.

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