Sunday, November 9, 2008

"Change" Needed Exists Within

(Picture Left: "Foxy" enjoying his first day in the park)

The calendar says November, but it might as well be the middle of July in terms of animal abandonments and the difficulty finding either foster or adoptive homes.

The Euth (klll) stats at our city shelters are looking far more like the middle of summer than mid fall. More than 50 dogs have gone down this weekend and cat/kitten numbers are usually doubling those of dogs.

This is very grim news.

I of course, have noted and written about this terrible downturn over the past year. Those of us in rescue and shelter work could feel the so-called, "economic crisis" now affecting the country long before it actually hit newspaper headlines.

It seems the first "luxury" to be given up by people during an economic downturn are the public's pets.

With the prices of pet foods, supplies, grooming, boarding and veterinary care skyrocketing we can only expect matters to get far worse over the ensuing months.

Loss of jobs, housing and saving accounts will only result in more animals being tearfully "surrendered" to shelters by desperate owners with few, if any options left.

Then there are the heartless landlords and/or ruthless, trouble-making neighbors who make it impossible for those people even willing, wanting and able to do the right thing.

A call to this effect came in yesterday for example:

The woman told me that she rescued a stray kitten about a month ago. She took the friendly kitten to the vet for exam and shots and then brought the kitten home with the intention of keeping him. But, the woman lives in a "no pet" building and one of her neighbors reported her to the landlord. The neighbor complained that the cat "meows." The landlord then sent the woman a letter threatening "inspection" and eviction unless she "gets rid of" the cat.

The desperate woman had called every no kill rescue group and shelter in the city only to be told that every one was "filled" and could not take in any more felines.

Of course, I could only tell the woman the same thing. We have cats rescued more than a year ago that we still have not been able to place.

The fact is, no one calls us to adopt cats anymore. ALL of our cat calls are either give ups or finds.

Because the woman has only had the kitten a month, she is not protected by any laws that guarantee if someone has an animal more than three months and the landlord has failed to take action on a "no pet" clause, the person can usually keep the animal providing it does not pose any danger or nuisance threats to the building.

The woman, having signed a "no pet" lease in her building doesn't have a legal leg to stand on.

All it takes in situations like these is one trouble-making cretin to land someone (and their pet) in a heap of trouble.

I advised the woman to bring the kitten to the Humane Society, ASPCA or Bideawee for neutering and that while at one of these (no kill) shelters, in person, to speak to heads of Adoptions. Having the friendly, healthy (and then neutered) cat with her might help propel the woman to the "front of the line" in getting the cat admitted into one of these shelters.

Aside from asking friends and acquaintances to take the animal (already tried and rejected), the woman's only other option was bringing the kitty to the AC&C where the cat has a better than 80% of dying.

All this for a bitchy neighbor and a seemingly callous landlord.

This is the main reason I am very paranoid about fostering any extra animals now and feel compelled to "hide" my current foster Pomeranian, Jay.

All it takes is one trouble-making creep to land one in a heap of trouble.

Speaking of Jay, (now called, "Foxy" by me) he went for his first walk in Central Park yesterday.

I believe, from his reaction, it was probably Foxy's first walk in a park, ever.

Foxy was initially very frightened, skittish and wary during the initial phases of the walk. It seems he's never seen joggers, cyclists or skaters before.

But, he kept up a brave front and relaxed enough to finally enjoy the walk. It probably helped the situation that it started to rain quite heavily and that had the effect of pretty much emptying out the park.

It was nice to see the little fox-like dog scooting around and finally relaxing and smiling.

I never heard back from "Vi," the woman who had come to see Foxy the other day as a possible foster. I wonder how serious she and her husband really are about getting a dog in the first place.

After all, Vi didn't keep the last one.

People like Vi (and unfortunately, there are too many of them) are seemingly seeking "perfect" animals.

And though Foxy is a sweet and relatively easy dog, he has adjustments to overcome in adapting to both, life in the city and life in a caring, loving home.

Its obvious "care" was something Foxy received very little of in his former home(s).

Yes, it is rough and dark times now both, in the economy and especially in animal rescue and placement.

Our country has just elected and will soon have a new President.

The question is, will we as a culture adapt new attitudes?

As the wizard of Oz said to Dorothy:

"I don't have the power to send you back to Kansas.......You've had it all along."

Or, to quote Shakespeare:

"The fault is not in our stars (or stocks or pets), it's in ourselves." -- PCA


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