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Kitten Rescue Complete. Now for the big job…

The kittens about whom I wrote the other day are now adjusting to their new temporary home at the Tuscarawas County Humane Society cat shelter! I am deeply grateful for the generosity of Megan, Shelter Director, and the rest of the kitty crew for taking in these special little critters.

In the coming days, they will get cleaned up, have their eyes tended to, and be assessed for health concerns. As you can see in the photo, the one with Siamese markings has major eye issues – her eyes are totally crusted together so that she cannot see. Some are coughing and sneezing too. That is not unusual. Megan expressed optimism about their recovery and potential adoption possibilities.

kitten rescueThere are 5 kittens in all. One was a little squirrely in my first capture attempt, but she made it to the shelter on the second try.

There are many fabulous cats at the shelter. If you are interested in adopting these kittens or other cats, check out their page of adoptable cats.

The trapping process with the adult feral cats begins next Tuesday. A friend from Peace for Pets is lending me some traps, and I will take as many as I can trap up to One is One of a Kind Pets in Fairlawn, OH for the spay/neuter. We have a warm place for their post op recovery and then they will go back to their habitat.

The process will be continued on other dates until we feel certain that all the cats have been vetted.

What an adventure!

BZTAT

And the rescue is about to start…

feral kittensYesterday I wrote about how I was going to help with a friend’s feral cat colony. I mentioned that there were kittens in the group that had health issues. I got some good news about them today.

The Tuscarawas County Humane Society has a cat shelter, and they have agreed to take the kittens. Yay! Not only will they take them, they will also get them vetted and nursed back to health, and then put them up for adoption when they are ready.

I plan to catch the kittens tomorrow (I hope they won’t need traps) and take them in to the shelter in the evening. I will follow up with the shelter and keep you posted on their progress.

There are still adult cats who will need to be trapped, spay/neutered and returned to the wild. I am considering 2 programs for this. One is One of a Kind Pets in Fairlawn, OH. Fairlawn is quite a distance, but the program has better availability.  The other program is the Tuscarawas Co. Humane Society who uses the mobile Rascal Unit for low cost spay/neuter. Although it is closer, there is less frequent access to them.

Whichever program I choose, both will entail some costs for the spay/neuter process for each cat. I have started a ChipIn fund raising event to raise money to cover these costs. (Please see widget in sidebar.) Each spay/neuter will cost around $60. Transportation costs may need to be covered as well, if we use One of a Kind Pets. Any assistance that you can offer will be greatly appreciated.

All of the donated money will go to a dedicated account at the CSE Federal Credit Union in Canton, OH. If donated funds exceed actual costs, the money will be used for another rescue effort.

Please follow the rescue efforts on the Okey’s Promise Facebook page. Wish me well!

Profiles of Hope: Another Feral Cat Story

ragdoll birman cat artI have been helping a friend in her recovery from open heart surgery. Her recovery is going well, but it will be some time before she is able to resume her usual activities. One of her usual activities is tending to the numerous feral cats who show up on her doorstep.

My friend lives in the country – one of those picturesque, rural Ohio roads that we all dream of in greeting card bliss.  It is one of those places where deer roam freely, the snow drifts in beautiful, undisturbed mountains of white, the grass and meadows shine in verdant greens in summer, and the trees are a blaze of color in the fall.

You know. One of those places that people go to dump the unwanted offspring of the pets that they failed to get spayed or neutered.

I am not sure how many cats there are, but my friend’s colony is growing. I feel a need to help her intervene at this stage, especially since she has her own health issues to worry about.

I have been considering the prospect of expanding Okey’s Promise into actual rescue efforts for some time. In fact, I have been considering helping this friend with Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) with her colony for awhile. I believe that the time is now for Okey’s Promise to take action. There are cats in need, and we have the opportunity to help.

There are some adoptable cats in this colony. Some have already been vetted and spay/neutered. I will be posting images of them in the coming days. If you have an interest, or know someone who does, please let me know.

There are also kittens in this colony approximately 3-4 months old. These kittens have health issues – eye problems and possible upper respiratory concerns. I plan to start a fund raising campaign within the next week to make it possible to get these kittens well and hopefully ready for adoption.

There are adult cats in the colony who will not be likely candidates for adoption. Fund raising will be initiated for them as well to get them spay/neutered and vetted from disease. They will be returned to their habitat so that they can protect their colony, yet avoid further reproduction.

I have learned from engaging in the Okey’s Promise projects and this website that feral cats are perhaps the most vulnerable creatures when it comes to animal abuse. Not only are they cast offs from society, they often become victims to those who abuse animals as a way to release their own sense of powerlessness.

Caring for a colony of feral cats is a preemptive strike against animal abuse. I plan to research the best methods for managing and providing TNR for this colony so that my friend can rest assured that her cats are getting what they deserve. Your help in this effort will be greatly appreciated.

I look at my 5 cats and realize that, had someone not intervened, each of them would have had the same fate as these creatures at my friend’s home in the country. My beloved pets were each one step away from a sad ending to their stories. Yet they are living happily ever after.

My hope is that Okey’s Promise Keepers will help make this feral cat story have a happy ending too.

 

Canton’s Effort to Develop a Trap-Neuter-Return Program

In recent weeks, numerous friends have brought to my attention concerns about the way feral cats are treated in my community. The city of Canton, OH has one of the most draconian animal control policies around, and many friends have asked me to get involved in the process of making change.

Okey stray cat
"Okey" Artwork by BZTAT

“Just think, had someone called Animal Control on Okey, she would never have become the star that she is,” one friend posted on my Facebook wall.

A friend from California sent me this message: “Vicki, this is going on right in your own backyard – isn’t there something you can do?”

How could I not get involved?

Here is the situation.

The city has a contract with an individual to perform Animal Control Officer duties. This individual reportedly takes complaints from the community regarding nuisance animals, including feral cats and assorted wildlife (skunks, raccoons, etc.) and he removes them from the location of the complaint. Wildlife apparently are relocated and released back into the wild where they will be less of a nuisance. Feral cats are taken to the Humane Society and euthanized. A handful of kittens and adoptable cats are rehabbed and placed for adoption, but unsocialized cats are deemed “ill” and destroyed.

Aside from the ineffective and inhumane  method of dealing with the animal control problem, there are also complaints  about inappropriate and inhumane treatment of animals by the individual in the role of Animal Control Officer. There is a personnel issue here – complaints from the community that the officer is doing his job in an inhumane manner – in addition to the problematic policy in place.

Alley Cat Allies, Best Friends Animal Society, ASPCA, Found Animals Foundation, and every other major animal welfare organization in the United States advocate for TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) as the most humane and the most effective means of controlling feral cat problems. Neutering and providing basic vet care to feral cats typically reduces the nuisance behaviors that cause problems, and returning a neutered cat to it’s previous location leads to a reduction of non-neutered cats entering the area. Progressive cities are instituting TNR programs and seeing great benefit.

With all of this in mind, I accompanied my friends to the City Council meeting on Monday, February 6, 2012. Ten other advocates and I spoke at the meeting to implore our City Council to consider: 1) discontinuing the current contract, and 2) developing a TNR program for the city.

Surprisingly, we encountered interested and open minds on the Council. They continued the current contract for a shortened period of time (90 days), however, they also agreed to work with advocates to develop alternatives to the current method of animal control.

Although I am concerned that the city contracted with an individual who has active complaints of animal maltreatment from the community against him, I did receive personal assurances from 4 council persons that the complaints would be investigated immediately.

I will keep you posted on the progress of the effort in this space. What follows are the remarks that I shared in the Public Speaks portion of the City Council meeting on February 6, 2012.

My name is Vicki Boatright. I speak to you as a counselor, as an advocate for children and as an advocate for animals. I also speak to you as an artist who has personally contributed to the redevelopment of Downtown Canton with 2 murals depicting the bond that exists between animals and human beings. I am currently working on a third public art project along the same theme with funds provided to me by my community.

In my 20 year career as as a counselor with children, I saw clearly that there is a link between the maltreatment of animals and violence towards children. Considerable clinical research backs up my own observations. When animals are treated poorly, children are often treated poorly as well.

As a counselor, I worked with parents, teachers and other child advocates to help children develop empathy and wise methods of problem solving. My objection to the renewal of a contract for very inhumane and ineffective feral cat control practice follows that trajectory of my purposes.

I believe that we must set an example for our children in our actions and in our public policies.

Trap-neuter-release has been proven to be the most effective, efficient and humane method of managing feral cat problems. Trap and euthanize programs have been proven to be ineffective, inefficient and inhumane. We should not even be having this conversation.

We often talk of attracting young professionals to Canton as a place to make their home. With the documented rise of pet ownership among young professionals, progressive cities are working to become more animal friendly communities. What is Canton doing? Killing cats. As a result of this contract renewal issue, pet writers across the country have already begun to black-list Canton as a very pet-unfriendly community. Yes, we are on their radar. I first heard of it from a writer in California.

This issue is not simply about whether or not to appease some bleeding heart animal rights activists. This issue is about how we as a community demonstrate the empathy and the wise problem-solving that we desire our children to embrace. It is about the economics of making this city a place where people want to live. I urge you to stop this ineffective and cruel practice of killing cats today, and show our children what empathy and wise problem solving really means. Thank you.