Monday, March 9, 2015

Be Kind! Just Say Thank You!

I often read comments on social media of people asking why animal rescuers are so cranky, and we shouldn't be in the business of helping animals if we don't like it. In fact, one self proclaimed puppy mill expert often posts that "animal rescuers" should be polite and more willing to help people yet has never spent a moment in rescue herself. Of all the comments I read as a rescuer, the "cranky" one always hits a nerve with me, especially by people who are clueless to what we put up with on a daily basis.

I try and refrain from responding to those armchair experts, but today's telephone call hit the nerve which urged me to write a response. While I was polite (as I could be) on the telephone, I decided to share my after thoughts here.

First let's start with the telephone call. Man calls to "drop off" his 14 year old cat because he is moving. Asking questions is important to gain an understanding of the "full reason" this man feels the NEED to abandon the life of his 14 year companion simply because of a relocation. So after almost 30 minutes of questions, struggling to get an answer each time, it all boiled down to this:

Man is building a home. He sold his previous home. He is uncertain where he will be staying and is kenneling his dogs. He may have to live with a friend and can't have a cat with inappropriate elimination! BINGO! There we go. NOW we know why he wants to "get rid of" his pet. With a good ear, a little tolerance and a whole lot of patience, the truth always comes forth.

So the next part of the discussion is about getting to the root of the problem with the cat's inappropriate behavior. First suggestion is to see a veterinarian to rule out any medical issue. Won't do it, because the vet wants to run a lot of tests. Costs aren't the issue, we offered to help with the bills. The next 15 minutes of the conversation is about all the things he's tried that didn't work.

"First, I love this cat, that's why I'm looking for a no-kill to take it. I don't want it killed, but I can't keep it. We've tried "everything" including that special spray (turns out it's Feliway he tried), giving the cat a time out, and using a squirt bottle when we find potty outside the box. Nothing works!"

Since everything he mentioned was absurd, I swallowed hard and began the painstaking process of trying to provide a little education to the gentleman offering alternative solutions, only to be cut off with:

"Look lady! I don't need a lecture. I've tried everything! I just need a place to take my cat! I don't want it killed, but I can't keep it. If you can't help me, I'll find someone who can." (Yea, good luck with that one mister!)

Despite my effort to explain I wasn't trying to "lecture" but to provide viable solutions he simply didn't want to hear. Plain and simple. He wanted to dump his problem onto someone else! He doesn't want a KILL shelter because he doesn't want to be responsible for it's death. He doesn't want to spend money on the vet (even when we offered to help with the costs). He doesn't want to work on the behavior...He just doesn't want the cat. He doesn't want to hear about how a litter change might help, or scooping the box more frequently, or offering a second box. Nope! It's simple. The cat is 14 years old and it has served it's purpose in his life. His life is changing and the cat is now an inconvenience! No solutions, no suggestions, nothing was welcomed, except for "sure, we'll take it", which wasn't offered!

Now....that is ONE call today! Just one! There will be anywhere from 10-25 this week from pet owners who are inquiring about our "no-kill" services for their unwanted pet that they love more than life itself, (but not quite enough to do what it takes to keep it). So you tell me, how SHOULD we feel? After all, none of us are saints...or at least I'm not! I'm a human being who has a passion for the welfare of animals, and make daily sacrifices for them to help make the world a better place. It isn't a choice. It appears to be my calling. And most days, are like above, especially as a no-kill. It's NOT like the fluffy happy stories you read by those who profess to be animal rescuers but only participate in transports and adoptions.

As I ended the call as politely as I could, wishing him the best (since nothing we offered was good enough for him), I felt deflated and saddened, because I knew the cat's life would fall victim to this lazy uncaring ignorant human who is just seeking out a guilt free way to dispose of a beloved soul because it no longer fits in his life-style! And then I get a little frustrated because I know I can't save them all, but that this cat will most likely lose it's life because this gentleman not only knows it all, apparently has tried it all, and doesn't care to do any more for the animal. So he'll take it to his local animal shelter where it will be euthanized for him and he can walk away without the guilt of killing it himself. And the shelter will be all too happy to do it for him...because after all "they don't turn any animal away!" And so the cycle continues. Ignorance breeds arrogance and animals die! But not to worry...there will be another call like it tomorrow. And if the kitty (or puppy) is lucky, the owner will have a conscience that we can tap into and the animal's life can be saved.

I'm glad that I choose not to participate in the innocent killing of animals because our society has a disposable mentality. I'm glad to be part of an organization that has policies and procedures way above the state's required standard of care. I'm thrilled that the organization I'm a part of has chosen to be a leader in "successful" adoptions to eliminate these types of returns.

And I won't apologize because a person felt "lectured" when I was actually providing viable solutions with a little education on how to keep his beloved pet alive and well even if it wasn't what he wanted to hear.

So the next time you read, hear or feel that a person in animal rescue is cranky, take a moment and remember this ONE incident, and cut them a break! Instead of writing some nasty comment about them, why not show a little empathy and gratefulness for what they endure and realize that their crankiness might be more out of frustration and helplessness than intolerance and anger.

Because I'm certain that those of us who help save lives are doing it because many of you reading this don't want to! Just offer your support, either through your time, your services, your donations....and help them keep their spirit alive. In doing so, you provide them with a little hope that all the work they do DOES make a difference and that the world is made up of more animal lovers than animal dumpers!

Be kind and just say thank you!


  1. I can't help but think a person with this "disposable pet" mentality will get settled in to his new house and, without a trace of guilt will replace his "throw-away" cat with a cute new kitten. Maybe, if it is lucky, this new kitten will never become an inconvenience. Good for you for offering him help even though he didn't want it. That's what makes your organization different from others who might have taken his cat and killed it, or brushed him off with a "'We're full!"

    1. Sadly it happens everyday. And most likely he will get another pet, which has a high probability of meeting the same fate. It's the lucky ones that get forever homes, and unfortunately it's not the norm.