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The woes of working in animal welfare

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Today hit me really bad at work. As i was on holiday last week there were a whole lot of new cats in. There was this beautiful orange Persian who looked about 10 months old. I spent most of the morning coaxing her out of her litter tray to give her cuddles and stop her being so shy and it was really working, yesterday she wasn't as playful. And then about lunch time i was told that she was going to get put down because she is sick (with what they didn't tell me), about 5 days out of the 8 for reclaiming strays is up and i'm so sad. I almost lost it.

I've been there 4 weeks now and i've become so used to their characters, the good and bad. If any of the cats have FIV or ringworm, and aren't claimed in that period by their owners, they get put down because they don't have the money to keep them quarantined their whole life and give them daily medication. They also would have to shut the whole cattery down and euthanaise ALL the felines if the ringworm spread (they do have dogs as well in a seperate area). This is a not for profit group, and it's the RSPCA (i'm at VAAT) who get government funding and still kill their animals after 28 days. If the animals here are completely healthy and have no behavioral problems, but don't get a home, they stay on till old age.

How do i deal with this? The job of taking the animals to be put down and the whole horrid process is not part of my job description, i'm glad. But still knowing that i won't get to see them the next week or day is really hitting me. When i get home to my own cats i can't help but think about it.

post #2 of 22
I cry with you about this horrible situation which you stated so well. My volunteer work at the Humane Society broke my heart. As you said, you develop a relationship with these precious little ones, looking forward to seeing them every day and giving each one special attention. Each one is so special and every single one deserves a family to shower them with abundant love. Just being there, you can feel them all crying out "Please love me". That's all they want in the world. You see them taken for their fatal walk down death row or come in to find them gone, it's heart wrenching. I couldn't tolerate the indiscriminate, lackadaisical euthanizing of these precious babies. As you said, I do so wish the government would provide more adequate funding. On the priority list of our system, cats don't seem to rank very high. If only we could just save them all
post #3 of 22
oh, just sat here with my fingers posed on the keyboard ???? what to say, I feel a heavy heart with you.................
You do a marvelous job and I know for certain it would be something I could´nt do as a full time thing. I try my best with fostering, raising funds etc but to do this type of work full time - you are an angel indeed !!
I suppose the thing to do is focus on the positive things, you give tons of love, affective and care to all that come you way. If you re-home a few now and then thats lets celebrate those successes !!
Keep strong, youre a great person and your love would be missed if you decided to leave

think you need a
post #4 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawnofsierra View Post
I cry with you about this horrible situation which you stated so well. My volunteer work at the Humane Society broke my heart. As you said, you develop a relationship with these precious little ones, looking forward to seeing them every day and giving each one special attention. Each one is so special and every single one deserves a family to shower them with abundant love. Just being there, you can feel them all crying out "Please love me". That's all they want in the world. You see them taken for their fatal walk down death row or come in to find them gone, it's heart wrenching. I couldn't tolerate the indiscriminate, lackadaisical euthanizing of these precious babies. As you said, I do so wish the government would provide more adequate funding. On the priority list of our system, cats don't seem to rank very high. If only we could just save them all
Well said.
post #5 of 22
It is hard and I have been through the same thing. At the shelter I volunteer at, they keep the pre-adoption animals away from the volunteers so we don't see them, which I am glad of.

We only see the ones that go up for adoption, and it's a small shelter, so they only need to euthanise animals if their health declines to an unadoptable state, or if they get aggressive. The animal attendent there is a cat person, so I think she really fights for each cat and does everything she can to keep them alive and healthy.

But every now again, thankfully only a handful of cats since I've been there, a cat turns and just lashes out at someone it doesn't like, and that can be the end. When you realise it's not in the cage is normally is, and isn't up on the adoption board it's absolutely heartbreaking.

I deal with it by giving the cats that ARE still there extra cuddles and attention and know I'm helping them.
post #6 of 22
You are in my prayers and thoughts today. It is very, very sad how overlooked cats are in our society; I guess it's just a lingering spin-off of the country's Puritan days, when cats were considered over-sensual and EVIL. Also, many places in the country still consider cats to be a working animal, useful for nothing more than rodent control.
Yes, the unwanted cats are going to keep on coming - but the fate of a cat on its own in the streets can be absolutely HORRIBLE, and Death will come to them as a friend. In your work, you are preventing that awful stage of events from happening. It's sad that they cant go to a wonderful home, safe, secure, playing with toys (I'm in the process of taming a semi-feral who's decided hugs and pets are good; coming inside a house for a reward of cream is good; but, toys?huh?What are things called toys for??? how sad that a cat that's on its own for too long doesnt' understand play anymore )
Your work takes selflessness, insight, intelligence, and the courage to look Reality dead in the eye and realize that no matter what the lousy outcome, you have a True Warrior Spirit and aren't going to back down. Your heart will not faint away and leave these poor tragic kitties to fend for themselves, alone, incarcerated, frightened, and sometimes sick, in heart and spirit as well as in body. No, you will muster on, and please, please accept my humble prayers for your encouragement as a too-small token of my admiration and my thanks for what you are doing. You are an answer to so many people's prayers when they ask for someone to help kitties in need, whereever they may be. It's tough being an angel......
Please keep us updated on how you are doing I will go out & buy a candle to keep lit in my office today, to remind to continually pray for your encouragement today. And may you be blessed a thousand times over for each and every kindness that you've shown to these cats.
And remember, those that are sent over Rainbow Bridge will be giving you a good report
post #7 of 22
I would concentrate on flooding them with all of the love and attention today so that they will know that in their last moments. Not neglect, loneliness, and fear. Rejoice that you got to know them. Not fear that you will lose them because when you get to know them, they will live through you.
post #8 of 22
I know that the shelter here is small, takes in the stray cats & dogs, but after 5 days, we don't euthanize. The only times we euthanize is when the animal is aggressive or there are health problems. We actually have one tiny room full of cages upon cages of cats with ringwomr(I believe there are 20 cat w/ ringworm now). This summer, we had to euthanize for overpopulation. We cannot afford to do any more spays/neuteres for the rest of the year...unless we get a grant we applied for. Most of the cats go to farm homes(we have almost no indoor adoptions), but we alway fix them prior to going. If we don't have the money to fix them, we can't send them to farm homes! What do we do now? We are already 30 cats over our max. cap. limit. We have run out of cages, we can't leave them loose, we've got coccidia/giardia/ringworm running rampant.... And, we have on average 2 cats coming in as strays every day. We are getting to the point where we euthanize for stupid things, like if a kitten has ringworm & an eye infection. Or coccidia & ringworm.

Sorry, but I read what you posted & started to cry...thinking about the ones here that I may loose. There is a 5 month old kitten, spayed/UTD shots/front paw delcaw that was surrendered for spraying...the family was mean...and she will likely be euthanized. She is as sweet as my little Lily & looks exactly the same. She will be a petite cat... if/when she grows up. There's Lola who has repeatedly bitten other cats...she is a front paw delcaw "stray" who may or may not be spayed. She is dog & kid aggressive. She almost bit a kid Tue. eve. I moved her into a cage behind the door so I could keep a better eye on her & keep her from biting anyone. She nips at me...but all she wants is to play & get her tummy rubbed. I think it is the cage making her bite. We currently have 3 cats that need homes w/o kids, cats, or dogs. We adopted one out after 8 months...to a home w/ kids, but they are 14 & 16...and never home. She was 9 years old. Her family apparently ran out of time for her after 8 years!

I feel your pain...its like, why don't people seem to realize how good a deal it is to adopt from the shelter? They complain about the small adoption fee...then having to get the cat spayed/neutered. Really? You can get the cat neutered for $25 with the rebate we offer, plus they are frontlined, dewormed, FeLV -, & have at least had their 2st distemper combo shot. People don't realize what all that costs.

Just when you get to know & love an animal, the rip him/her away & not always in a good way.
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by catsknowme View Post
You are in my prayers and thoughts today. It is very, very sad how overlooked cats are in our society; I guess it's just a lingering spin-off of the country's Puritan days, when cats were considered over-sensual and EVIL. Also, many places in the country still consider cats to be a working animal, useful for nothing more than rodent control.
Yes, the unwanted cats are going to keep on coming - but the fate of a cat on its own in the streets can be absolutely HORRIBLE, and Death will come to them as a friend. In your work, you are preventing that awful stage of events from happening. It's sad that they cant go to a wonderful home, safe, secure, playing with toys (I'm in the process of taming a semi-feral who's decided hugs and pets are good; coming inside a house for a reward of cream is good; but, toys?huh?What are things called toys for??? how sad that a cat that's on its own for too long doesnt' understand play anymore )
Your work takes selflessness, insight, intelligence, and the courage to look Reality dead in the eye and realize that no matter what the lousy outcome, you have a True Warrior Spirit and aren't going to back down. Your heart will not faint away and leave these poor tragic kitties to fend for themselves, alone, incarcerated, frightened, and sometimes sick, in heart and spirit as well as in body. No, you will muster on, and please, please accept my humble prayers for your encouragement as a too-small token of my admiration and my thanks for what you are doing. You are an answer to so many people's prayers when they ask for someone to help kitties in need, whereever they may be. It's tough being an angel......
Please keep us updated on how you are doing I will go out & buy a candle to keep lit in my office today, to remind to continually pray for your encouragement today. And may you be blessed a thousand times over for each and every kindness that you've shown to these cats.
And remember, those that are sent over Rainbow Bridge will be giving you a good report
well said!
post #10 of 22
I really feel for you, you are an angel for sure..and anyone who works in this area gets my total respect, I just couldn't, I'd love to, but know I really couldn't as I like many others would be so emotionally attached and it really would finish me off.

Cats as I have learnt aren't stupid by any means, and they'll know even if for a while that someone loves and cherishes them, and you should take some comfort that they will know this, and carry on doing what you do, to have someone for a while is better than to have nobody at all, and they are in a safe and happy place now surrounded by everlasting love, so at least someone like you and many others made their path there a tad easier xxx
post #11 of 22
You have my utmost respect, fostering is nothing compared to what you do on a daily basis. I think as the others have said, give them as much love as you can, and make what time they have at the shelter happy. Could you try and do some advertising for them to try and increase the number of people coming looking?
post #12 of 22
I am so sorry I feel your pain as well my cousin has a cat that she had completely declawed that has begun bitting for some reason the cat particularily goes after her daughter and she said the next time she would go back to the shelter and I said she's doing that because you got her declawed and when they first got her Lacey, her daughter, held the cat until she scratched her to get loose, was right before she got declawed, and the kid is not nice to the cat she will push her away when she tries to play with her and so I think the cat doesn't trust her and that combined with being declawed its my cousin's fault that her daughter got bit. She's a spoiled little brat anyway.
post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by katachtig View Post
I would concentrate on flooding them with all of the love and attention today so that they will know that in their last moments. Not neglect, loneliness, and fear. Rejoice that you got to know them. Not fear that you will lose them because when you get to know them, they will live through you.
Couldn't have said it better myself!

I worked at the county shelter in Troutdale, OR (outside Portland) and what I saw in terms of how many moms and kittens come in during kitten season, it just blew me away! It is so hard not to attach yourself to these wonderful furkids! I tried to get a volunteer job at the shelter here, but they don't have enough resources for them. Once I get up to Paso Robles, I'll be searching out shelters.

God knows what you do for these animals and you will be rewarded in time...
post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
I don't know if this will make me less of a good samaritan, but as a part of looking for paid work, i was told to choose a place to do volunteering to prove i was being active and not just sitting at home. Animal shelter was the first place i picked, there were only a small amount of others i could see myself doing, and aged cared, i couldn't deal with sicknes and death, touch wood. When i told the job agency guy i wanted to work in animal welfare (i've been thinking about it for years before this came up) he said i didn't have enough skills and it was a limited area for job posibilities. The whole point of volunteering is getting experience. So i picked a different group of jobs and got sent to another agency. To my surprise the same nimal welfare job was through them as well and the guy encouraged me rather than discourage me to work there. Even though i don't drive and it takes me 2 hrs by public transport. I am only there 2-3 days a week by the way, not 5.

Does this make me a dishonest person because it wasn't my idea first to be there? I did end up there by my choice in the end, and lots of whitepages help! God i carry on I just feel a little guilty, as there are so many people who do more than i do. I truly love these animals no matter how i got to work with them. I tried to get to the RSPCA for at least a year, and every time they were fully booked for inductions =*( No one dropped off the waiting lists.

I said my goodbyes to the little orange ball of fluff. I just cuddled him and told him how sorry i was that i couldn't do anything. He didn't even have a name =((

Sarahp, i can choose which area i work in, but pre-adopt, or quarantine is joined to the main building, and i can't walk past there and not go in. I love them just as much as the ones currently for sale. Thhey are the ones i visit first thing in the morning. Through all they mesy trays, puddles of puiddle, bedding in the wet food bowls, constant mowing for attention and that wonderful smell lol, it's worth it in the end. Even if the walk there and back from the bus stop kills my feet!

rosiemac, a couple of days ago i met the most beautiful girl in the world. A 10 month old tortie, who is the cutest, most affectionate thing in the world! And could pass for rosie's daughter, hehe. I just stand at the door and look at her, and she poses. She was one of the group of cats i got to name this week, so i called her Garnet.

I also named two tabbies Rhani and Amber, a black and white dsh one blue eye, one yellow 'sexy' Sampson, and another girl Louise. I feel like i have a big family now! I'm so surprised at the replies to this thread, i didn't think anyone would take notice as i'm new and all. Thank you all so much, i hope you don't think less of me re what i said at the start of this post. You're all wonderful.
post #15 of 22
ON the contrary, I admire you all the more You didn't go searching out the job, filled with dreams of pomp and glory - you just did it and got exposed to the awful aspects and STAYED to continue on - that took TRUE LOVE of CATS To paraphrase President John F. Kennedy: The basis of true human morality is when a man does what he must in spite of the personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures. And without belittling the sacrifices of those who have died, we should not forget those acts of courage with which men have lived. or something like that ( I don't want to infringe on any copyrights )
post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hopefully i did say somewhere there that i've only been there four weeks, so not up to the staying on stage yet. I'm only meant to do two days a week for the agency. If i lived closer or drove, i would be there longer, but it's physically demanding as it is.

Actually, once all the feeding, cleaning, etcetc is all done by lunch time, the rest of the day there is practically no work. So i spend the next 4 hours playing with kitties or having them occupy my lap and having human contact. The other people there only have small amounts of contact with them. I think it's because i'm new. I can't treat it as a normal job because you have all these little lives around you that need attention. So even when you're cleaning out the litter and soiled bedding and sometimes unbearable smell from overnight, they demand love and i can't deny them that.
post #17 of 22
It doesn't matter how you get to a place, it is what you do when you get there that is important. And by giving these lovely creatures some love and attention, you are doing something truly divine.
post #18 of 22
I tear up reading all of these stories. What a difficult job to do everyday.
Our local paper has pictures of animals up for adoption in the area shelters once a week. Then in the past year they started running a Shelter Tails section with it, lists of adopted animals from the prior week, and stories of adoptions etc. Recently they have added another column to these that has been addressing different issues, such as stories the shelters get of why people are bringing animals in, what people don't understand about the expense involved in adopting, and even pictures of pets dropped off when the shelters are closed, which is illegal, wanting any info on the pets so they can take legal action. Today's column is about the writer spending a day at a local shelter to see what goes on in a typical day. It's a two part story, finishing next week. I am so happy the paper has been expanding this section, it is wonderful for people to read and has opened my eyes. I am usually crying after reading all of them though. I'm donating to the shelters wish lists and trying to help, rather than being just being emotional for a short bit. I think a lot of people want to help but don't know the channels to go through, and the paper has helped me and probably others.
post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 
When i went to sign out yesterday there was a group of young ladies standing with the most gorgeous 2 year old black labrador i'd ever seen. One girl said she wanted to get rid of him as soon as possible, which sounded horrible. She ended up running outside with the dog and her friend. The girl who stayed behind explained that the house they are moving to can't have animals, and if they can't find a place for him, the last resort is to put him down!

I don't know what happened, but i hate seeing this happen. Couple of days ago a woman and her two kids dropped into the cattery to visit a cat they used to own. She has another cat and dog, and this cat (Lance, who should have been named Garfield for being the most beuatiful orange cat in the world!) didn't get along with them. What really pissed me off was how pompous she was. When she got in she just stood there and said to the manager 'well, can i look at the cats or not?' Her little boy picked Lance up and was running around with this cat that looked to big for him to handle, his head shaking around while his sister tried to grab him.

I can see why Lance is very happy here. He has lots of toys and laps, and no little rats vying for a 'turn'

MEH!!
post #20 of 22
Since I'm into video production, I want to make a documentary of what really goes on inside animal shelters and rescues. I know people don't have the slightest clue what goes on "behind the scenes"! Then, I want to distribute them to middle schools throughout the country for the students to watch. It is just needed education that should be done. This overpopulation problem needs to STOP!!!

To all the people involved with these animals, please know that every little bit of help, HELPS! Awareness is the key!!
post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragoriana View Post
' Her little boy picked Lance up and was running around with this cat that looked to big for him to handle, his head shaking around while his sister tried to grab him.
MEH!!
That poor child- his own mother sends his beloved cat to the shelter! The biblical "giving him a scorpion instead of a loaf of bread"
Well, his mother will someday find out the bitter harvest of her actions now is going to be a son that has learned to harden his heart and it wont surprise me if she winds up in a nursing home waiting for a visit that just wont happen....Another tragic consequence of people who discard pets like cheap socks...
post #22 of 22
Thread Starter 
*bump*

Guess what? Cleo decided to occupy the end of the bed and steal my leg warmth! That's the first time she's done that. And my boyfriend told me the other week that sometimes when i'm not there she will sleep on my pillows (boyfriend doesn't use them lol). I feel like a real mummy!

Whisky'sDad, that sounds like a good idea. If these kids see the condition some of the animals come in, and how much noise they make just for some attention, they might get better at being pet owners.

catsknowme,i wouldn't know what to do in that situation. When we brought Cleo home she had a problem with Timmy the older cat (there are also two dogs who get along fine), but now they don't mind eachother (well, they can't communicate for a couple more weeks anyway since Timmy was diagnosed with fiv and she needs 3 injections to protect herself). I knwo it's sad that Lance was given up, but at least we look after him, instead of him being dumped. And hopefully someone new will take him into their home.
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