Category Archives: Profiles of Hope

Profiles of Hope: Amazon Cares – Caring for pets and people in Peru

Amazon Cares dog umbrella drawing by bztatWherever there are people, there are pets. We are a species that attracts, and is attracted to, animals whose own species have evolved through adapting to human interaction.

Even when certain dogs and cats and other companion animals are not socialized to humans, their overall species has adapted to us, and therefore, they rely on us for their survival. That is why there are growing efforts to address the needs of homeless pets who live off the discards of humanity and lurk on the fringes of our lives.

Humanity created their situation. They did not.

It amazes me to see people working to resolve the problem of homeless pets in their local communities. When someone travels to another side of the world to do it, well, that is just incredible.

Molly Mednikow did that.

Not only did she do that, she walked away from a thriving career in Atlanta, GA and started the charity Amazon Community Animal Rescue, Education and Safety (Amazon CARES) in the Peruvian Amazon. On her first trip to the region, she was struck by the awareness that numerous worldwide organizations were working on environmental issues affecting the Amazon, but there was no effort to address the needs of homeless domestic animals. “One could not walk three feet without stepping over a severely ill dog, lacking hope or opportunity in this environment,” she said. The experience compelled her to act.

Amazon CARES has since received international acclaim for its innovation and essential work to aid sick and injured animals, promote spay-neuter programs, and reduce the abuse and neglect of companion animals. Their programs aim to improve community health through working with both the animals and human beings in the region.

It is a daunting task. The concept of animal welfare is not as established in this society as it is in American culture, thus educating citizens about the importance of animal care is a big job.

The volunteers of Amazon CARES have made considerable progress in a few short years. Recently, though, they have faced serious setbacks. The Peruvian Amazon region has been experiencing the worst flooding in decades. The shelter in which they had housed sick animals and tended to their veterinary needs was washed away in the floods. The animals were rescued, but they are now in cramped quarters.

The Fondation 30 millions d’Amis has provided them with an emergency grant, and they have received generous donations from private donors. This has enabled them to build a smaller, emergency shelter on higher land. Local government is donating wood to assist with the project. More donations are needed, though. You can learn more here, and you can contribute to the fund raising campaign with the widget below.

The picture above is one that I drew to encourage hope amidst the losses facing Amazon CARES. Indeed, hope is what they are all about. Their work is so inspiring. I wish them well as they work to recover from the setbacks and continue the marvelous work they do – for the animals and for the people of Peru.

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!


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.


Profiles of Hope: Celebrate National Feral Cat Day!

The video above explains what National Feral Cat Day is all about. Best Friends Animal Society is a major leader in addressing the needs of feral cats and other abandoned pets. Many rescue groups look to them for guidance in developing shelters and and other programs for abandoned pets.

I think promoting awareness about humane treatment of feral cats is extremely important. Feral cats are at great risk for being abused and otherwise harmed by society, because they are considered a nuisance. Colonies of feral cats also tend to be harmed by children who are not well cared for themselves. We need to look for systemic changes to address the needs of both.

I have twice been contacted in recent weeks about feral cat colonies that were being abused by children and adolescents. Both colonies were tended by caring people. Both colonies developed around low income housing areas where there were other community problems. Both areas had poorly supervised children with behavior problems, many of whom had likely experienced trauma from family and/or community violence. In both situations, the caring individuals who tended to the cats had witnessed youngsters killing – yes outright killing – the cats.

Both situations seemed hopeless, BUT THEY WERE NOT. The woman tending the cats in this story written awhile back has now started an initiative to get Humane Education built into the curriculum of the local school district. The superintendent is backing the initiative, and a group of animal and child advocates are working together to develop the curriculum.

In the second situation, the county Animal Control Officer is working with the woman tending the cats to identify the child who killed the cat. Once the child is identified, the officer is committed to finding appropriate interventions for the child to insure that his needs get attention.

In both situations, the women who bring care to the animals were emotionally stressed by the traumatic events that they witnessed. The fact that they care and put themselves through such stressful circumstances proves to me that they are not only heroes for the animals, but also for the children who have been so misguided.

It is important for such caregivers to attend to their own needs, as it can be emotionally overwhelming to witness some of the human pain that gets directed onto animals. Finding positive solutions to addressing systemic problems can help. Addressing your own needs is important too. This article gives a good resource for coping with compassion fatigue. I encourage you to read it and follow the provided resources.

The most important thing is to reach out to others. When it seems hopeless, sometimes another person can see the silver linings that are not apparent to you.

Are you considering getting involved in helping with feral cats? Check out the resource rich Best Friends Animal Society website and follow the Best Friends Blog for all kinds of great information. Alley Cat Allies is another great resource.

You CAN make a difference for feral cats, and also for the people who cohabit their communities.

From bottom left to right: Noah, Brewskie, Okey, Who, Slick

Here’s a photo of my fabulous five felines who were all once semi-feral cats or offspring of feral cats. They are now the rulers of my home. I only wish I could teach them to make the bed… Sigh. I guess you have to choose your battles.

So what are you doing for feral cats or other abandoned pets? What are you doing to ensure our children learn to respect them and act in humane ways?