We all know about April Fools Day. It’s usually a fun time of year where people play a few games or tricks on their friends, all in the name of good clean fun. However, this April Fools Day was no picnic at ICS.
Why? Well, you see, eleven cats and kittens were dropped off at ICS’s door early on the morning of April 1, 2014. Not only were they dropped off without anything more than a how-do-you-do, but they were also left out in the open, without being protected by a box or carrier. They were understandably frightened and confused, and could have gotten themselves seriously hurt if they had wandered too far away from the shelter into the parking lot or busy US-6.
Initially, our volunteers found seven of the kitties and quickly got them into cages inside. Luckily, everyone was in good health, and they were all friendly. In other words, all of these cats used to be owned by someone, in a nice home where they were safe from the elements. They were no “outdoor” or feral cats by any means. But what we didn’t realize was that more were out there, hiding nearby. One by one, they were discovered over the course of the day until finally, the last one was found – way up in one of our beautiful old black walnut trees. That’s right, this kitty was more than 15 feet up, and found that he didn’t think too far ahead. He couldn’t find his way down. Despite many efforts, including one of our employees attempting to climb the tree to rescue him, the kitty wouldn’t budge. By the time it got dark, there was nothing anyone could seem to do to entice him down, so, they let him be. The next morning, as luck would have it, little Squirrel was found running around and safely on the ground, and we were able to scoop him up.
Yep, 11 kitties overall. That’s a lot of new recruits! But what irks me more than anything is that those kitties should not have been left at the shelter like that. That’s abandonment, and it’s illegal in almost every state. Did you know that? Even if you drop your animal off at a shelter, if you do so without announcing yourself and without putting the animal directly into the care of the people at the shelter, then you are guilty of what could be considered felony. It’s true – I looked it up.
If you really need to relinquish your animal, do so with kindness and in recognition of the fact that it is another living being. Would you drop another person off on someone’s doorstep? Probably not. So why is dropping off a cat or a dog considered ok? It sure doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. If you really must find another home for your animal, consider other options BEFORE you bring her to a shelter – any shelter. Shelters are scary and stressful places for animals who have never known anything but your loving home. And the older they are, the scarier it is. Even no-kill facilities may have a hard time caring for and adopting out your relinquished pet, especially if he/she is not able to adjust to shelter living.
While sometimes giving up a pet is the only option a person may have due to life circumstances, try these things first:
- Ask your neighbors, friends, and family members. Maybe one of them would like to take your pet in.
- Post a picture and information about your pet on Facebook, Twitter, and any other appropriate social media. You might reach a much wider community audience this way.
- Send information about your pet to the local paper and other news outlets, as well as post on community bulletin boards such as at churches, grocery stores, schools and colleges, and restaurants.
- Call your veterinarian and other veterinarians in the area and ask them if they can take the pet in, or know someone who can give her a good home. Often, they can help you.
- If the reason you’re giving away your pet is due to some medical or behavioral issue, consult with your vet and see what alternatives can be explored, such as behavioral therapy or changing something about the way you care for your pet (food, litter used, etc).
- If the reason you’re giving away your pet is because of a health issue with the humans in your household, such as allergies, consider talking with your doctor about allergy medications or other ways to mitigate symptoms. Modern medicine has come a long way, and allergic reactions may reduce in intensity or go away entirely if you give them a chance.
We hope that you will consider some of the options above if you ever consider finding a new home for your pet. But, of course, we hope that never has to happen, since your pets are part of your family. The eleven cats and kittens brought to our doorstep were someone’s pets once, but luckily, they have a second chance to find a loving home – perhaps with your family!