Monthly Archives: May 2011
This past week, I wrote the story of Charley, now renamed Chaplin, who was dumped off at Capital to be euthanized and had obviously been abused by one of our adopters. I mentioned at the end of that story that last week had been pretty terrible as we had another Charley returned to us the following Saturday (one week after Chaplin) by another adopter with the initials J.K.
Before I go into this new story of my disappointment in an adopter, I just want to thank everyone who responded to Chaplin’s story with encouraging comments and a ton of love. The heartaches of rescue work are lessened when I know that others care what happens to our kitties, too.
And now my second disappointment with an adopter and a sweet boy named Charley.
On May 2, I had an email from an adopter, J.K. who had just adopted Charley, a loving, gorgeous tabby boy on February 17 of this year. Her email said: “I adopted a cat named Charlie from Black and Orange in mid-February of this year. I am writing to touch base with someone to make arrangements because, unfortunately, I am not able to keep Charlie anymore. I will be happy to go into more detail over the phone, but basically it is a combination of my not being able to keep paying for medical issues as well as his chronic urinating outside of the box. I have been working with my vet for this issues since I adopted Charlie, and I feel I have exhausted my options and am not able to do any more for him. I am also concerned about putting any more additional stress on him, or onto my other cat I have had for six years who has been adjusting to things since I brought Charlie home.
“Please send me an e-mail so I can arrange for someone to pick Charlie up.”
Notice that J.K. said she had been working on the issue of the inappropriate litter pan use since she adopted Charley. You will find out in a moment that this was not the case.
I immediately wrote J.K. back. Charley had a sibling who had had a urinary tract infection and I worried that perhaps he had one as well that had been overlooked. I apologized to J.K., offered to have her take Charley to our vet to be checked (and we would pay), and gave her suggestions so she could ultimately keep Charley.
She did not want him.
In her follow-up email J.K. said: “Yes, Charlie has been found to have some kind of lower urinary tract infection issues. I have taken him to the vet multiple times and paid for many different types of tests. He is currently on the last few days of an antibiotic. No crystals were found in his urine though, according to the vet. Charlie has had significant diarrhea since I adopted him, (we had sent her home with a bag of special food just for the diarrhea, but she changed his food) but the vet doesn’t seem to think that is related to the urination since he is gaining weight still and deficates in the box, even though he doesn’t urinate in it. At this point, my vet has said the options for trying to deal with the urination are either anti-anxiety medications or re-training him. I have had to draw the line on the money I am going to keep spending on Charlie, so I just can’t afford to try any more medicine. My current living situation is a rental, and my carpet is now a mess. I can’t even justify getting my carpet cleaned until Charlie is not in the house anymore. As far as retraining goes, I am gone at work for a large part of the day. The only uncarpeted area in my apartment with a door is my bathroom , and I feel this is too small a space to lock him in for such a large part of the day. As far as my other cat, she currently does not have any issues. I am concerned, though, about the effect all of this is having on her. I can’t have a second cat start urinating all over my carpet because of her seeing Charlie do it.
“I am very sorry I didn’t contact you sooner, as I was unaware of the 30 day expiration on the return (I had told J.K. that within the first 30 days we take a cat back immediately if there are problems, but after 30 days, we ask the adopter to work with us until we can find a foster). I wish I had known Charlie and his sibling had all of these issues before I adopted him. At this point, I have decided it is in his best interest as well as for myself and my other cat that I don’t keep him. All of this has been much too stressful the last two and a half months, and has taken a toll on me emotionally and financially. This is my busiest time of year at work, and looking back, I obviously wasn’t prepared to adopt a second cat into my home.”
After this email, I made arrangements with Dr. Kim West, our friend and vet, to foster Charley as I thought he had major medical conditions that would need her expertise. I let J.K. know that Dr. West would be out of town, but as soon as she was home, we would get Charley from her.
On Saturday, Bobbie and I met J.K. at PetSmart and picked up Charley. I had asked her to bring back his folder with his medical records and to also bring her vet’s records showing what they had done.
I was not expecting to find what I found in the vet records.
J.K. had Charley declawed.
Charley was adopted on February 17 and at that time, J.K. signed our adoption contract stating that she would not have him declawed. Kristin, who was his foster, spoke to her in depth about declawing. We also provide paperwork about the problems with declawing in all our adoption folders.
On March 5, J.K. took Charley for a declaw consult. At no point did she contact us to tell us she was having problems with him scratching and ask for solutions. On March 10, barely two weeks after adopting Charley, she had him declawed.
According to the vet’s records, there had been no problems with Charley urinating outside of the litter pan until he was declawed. After the declaw surgery, he would not use the litter pan, at all, because his paws hurt too much. He did start defecating in the pan after a few weeks, but continued to pee right beside the litter pan.
The vet stated that the change in Charley’s behavior was due to the declaw surgery.
At no point in any of our correspondences did J.K. mention the declaw.
Here is where I need to educate the uneducated. And forgive me, since many of you are in rescue, if I am preaching to the choir. Declawing is not a simple surgery. It is very painful and very inhumane. Declawing actually involves cutting a cat’s toes off at the first joint. If a human were declawed, it would be like cutting our fingers off at the knuckles. Many cats have issues after the surgery with walking and using the litter pan, because their feet hurt. Due to the pain, they often associate the litter pan with the discomfort in their paws and refuse to use the pan. This was the case with Charley.
You can read more about declawing at www.declawing.com
What makes me angriest about this whole episode is that J.K. led me to believe that we gave her a flawed, unhealthy cat. She never took any responsibility for her actions or admitted that she had caused Charley’s issues herself. Instead, she made me think this was our fault and that we were obligated to take back this “problem cat.”
When we asked Dr. Jensen to check Charley out, she didn’t do any tests to see if he had a urinary tract infection or other health problems. She believed, just as the other vet had, that Charley’s problem was due to the declaw surgery. She said she sees problems arise often after declawing, but people still continue to have the surgery performed out of convenience. Rather than teaching the cat not to scratch in certain areas or keeping the nails trimmed, impatient owners have the cat declawed. In many countries, other than the United States, declawing is outlawed, because it is so inhumane.
Charley was very stressed with J.K.–not only because of the declaw, but we think he may have been having problems with her other cat. This was not a good home and he needed out of there. He is now with Dr. West and guess what–NO MORE LITTER PAN PROBLEMS. The very first night with her, he used the litter pan like a champ–even with regular litter in it (Dr. Jensen told us we might have to re-teach Charley to use a litter pan without litter in it or with a puppy pad).
Sometimes, just getting a cat to a safe, loving environment takes care of everything.
Last Saturday when I got to work, I had a voice message on my phone from Capital Area Humane Society. The message was from the admissions department. Sometime on Friday, a woman, J.K., surrendered a cat to the shelter. This cat (now named Charley) was formerly one of ours. J.K. told them she had adopted the cat as a kitten from our organization. Capital wanted to know if we would take the cat back or if we wanted them to do their evaluation on the cat and decide what to do with him.
I was utterly furious at this woman. On May 6, I had an email from J.K. stating that her 7-year-old son had developed allergies to Charley and they needed to surrender the cat. She said she had been trying for six weeks to find a home for the cat who they had had for two and a half years. Although, she said she had contacted every no-kill shelter and rescue organization in Franklin County, this was the first correspondence I had had from her about Charley. Part of our adoption contract asks the adopter to contact us if there is a problem with keeping the cat. We always try to work with adopters to find a solution even if we don’t currently have foster space to take the cat.
J.K. said she had been boarding the cat at her vet’s office, because her son’s allergies had become so severe. When I saw that the issue was allergies, I quickly wrote her back the same day, May 6, and told her all the options available for keeping a cat while dealing with allergies. The best solution many of our adopters have found is regular grooming of the cat. If you give the cat a bath and wash away the dander, there usually is no issue. We’ve had many, many adopters tell us that this works.
I asked J.K. to try several of the things I suggested and to also send me photos of Charley for our Petfinder site, so we could post him and begin looking for another home if she decided that was her only recourse.
I heard nothing more from J.K. and thought that my suggestions must have worked.
And then she took Charley to Capital.
I called and left a message telling the Admissions department that we would take Charley back. Because they had called me the day before, I worried that they had already euthanized the cat. Although Charley was young, only 2 and a half years, and a friendly orange and white tabby, I still feared that if they were full, they might just euthanize him before I got there.
I also called and left J.K. a message. I pulled out her old adoption application from December 2008 and found her number. I was so angry when I left the message that my voice was shaking. Why had she not contacted me when she decided she was done with Charley?
After work, I hurried over to Capital to retrieve Charley.
When I gave the woman in Admissions my carrier and told her I wanted to get Charley, she said he had a carrier in his cage with him and she would just try to get him to go in that carrier. She did not think she could pick him up and put him in my carrier as he was very “angry.”
Now I was confused. What was going on? Charley (who we had called Jerry) came from a litter of five kittens who were very, very social and loved people. He was only four months old when J.K. and her five-year-old son adopted him. J.K. felt her son was finally old enough for a pet and he had been begging for a cat. They told me a story of how they had both dreamed of an orange kitten and when they saw Jerry/Charley on our web site, they knew he was the kitten of their dreams.
What had happened?
The woman at Capital brought Charley out from the back room and he was hissing and growling inside his carrier. I thought he was just traumatized and upset from being at Capital with all the noises and smells.
The admissions woman informed me that Charley was slated to be euthanized because he was “not a nice cat.” He had been swatting at everyone and appeared aggressive.
Again I was confused. I asked her if J.K. had brought in any vet records that I could have so I would not have to re-do anything that he had already had done. The admissions woman told me that J.K. had not brought any records, but she had told them Charley had just received his vaccines on May 3 at her vet’s office where he had been boarded. Capital had called the vet’s office to confirm this and the office was furious that J.K. had taken Charley to Capital. She had just picked Charley up from boarding that morning and they thought she was taking him home or had found a safe place for him to go. She did not tell them that she was taking him to Capital.
I left with Charley, thinking that he would settle down once he was away from the shelter and knew he was safe. On the way home, I also called the vet’s office and asked if they would fax me Charley’s records. The receptionist was thrilled to hear that I had taken Charley from Capital. I asked her if he had been aggressive with them. She said he had been in a cage for almost three weeks and was very anxious and upset from being away from home. She said he did hiss and growl at them, but she had been able to pet him after working with him for a bit.
What had happened to this cat?
When I got Charley home and into my spare bathroom, he refused to come out of his carrier, so I left him alone to settle in. Each time I came in to check on him, he would give a high pitched scream, growl, and hiss at me. When I finally persuaded him to come out, he approached me as if he wanted to be petted. When I did pet him, he tried to bite me and swatted at me with him paw.
I tried petting him several more times and at some point along his back, I would hit a spot that would set him off and he would screech and try to grab me with his paw or his mouth.
This cat, from all appearances, has been abused. He is definitely angry. He is scared and does not trust people. He has been hiding in my bathroom closet and each time I come in the room, he crouches down, backs away from me, hisses, growls, and tries to hit me with his paw.
There was more going on with this cat’s surrender than a little boy with allergies. What had these people done to a loving, sweet kitten to make him into this aggressive cat? Had someone been hitting him or harming him in some way to make him so distrustful?
I will never know, but something horrible happened to this boy.
On Monday, I had an utterly nasty email from J.K., which I bounced back to her. I do not want any other communications with this woman. She basically blamed me for everything and told me that my phone message was “harassment.” I have added her to the “Do Not Adopt” list that I keep for B and O. If any other rescue groups would like her information, I will happily give it to them, but I doubt she will ever have a companion animal again in her life.
I am working with Charley to see if I can make him trusting again, can make him into the sweet kitten he was when he left us. I hope I can. He has come along a bit, allowing me to pet him and soliciting rubs. But sometimes something still sets him off and he will try to bite me or attack my legs–not in a playful way, but as if to defend himself. It appears that someone had been kicking him–he is extremely fearful of feet. I keep telling him “NO” when he does these things and he stops, but it is going to take a lot of love to bring this boy around and make him feel safe.
Charley, who I’ve renamed Chaplin to give him a fresh start, is safe with me for now.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this story of disappointment about another cat named Charley who was returned to us just a week later by another owner with the initials, J.K.
The first thing I want to tell everyone is that BarkPark is re-opening in 2011! The members only dog park, which raises money for local rescue groups and shelters, closed its gates in 2009 after raising millions of dollars to help area homeless animals. Happily, they are now back for the summer of 2011.
Membership to BarkPark has changed. The membership fee is now $100 and there is no longer an entry fee to come to BarkPark. The park is open once per month and the $100 membership fee entitles members to attend five events per year.
All of the money raised, however, still goes to help animal welfare groups in the Central Ohio area.
BarkPark offers a lot of neat experiences that canine lovers and their dogs will not find elsewhere, including:
*Ten fenced in acres that are carefully monitored by volunteers to insure the safety of both dogs and humans.
*A concession stand with both vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare to keep your belly from growling while the dogs are having fun–but watch out for the hot dog pooch patrol that loiters need the stand!
*A half acre pond, dog agility course, tons of toys, and a dog wash area that provides shampoo, towels, and ear cleaner.
*Inside restroom facilities for the humans who visit.
*Happy, healthy dogs that must prove they are spayed/neutered and up-to-date on vaccines before playing in the park.
If you would like to find out more about BarkPark, please visit their web site HERE. For more information on membership, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The second exciting news about a local animal charity is that Rascal Charities, home of the mobile Rascal Unit, will be opening the Rascal Animal Hospital in the Fall of 2011. The facility at 5830 Britton Parkway in Dublin, is easily accessed from I-270 and is located next to the Best Buy and Wal-Mart in Tuttle. The 5,000 square foot building will offer full service vet care as well as hospitalization and emergency care.
Finally, the 11th Annual Rescue Run, presented by PetPromise, will take place on Saturday, May 28, with registration beginning at 8 am. Besides the 5K run, there will also be a food court and vendor fair, as well as music and other fun activities for both two and four-legged family members. This event raised $45,000 in 2010 to help PetPromise with their programs for homeless animals.
To register for the run and see the full calendar of events, as well as download a flyer about the run, please go HERE.
We hope you will support these wonderful organizations that work so hard in our community for animals in need.
At the end of April, my friend, Cynthia, called me in a panic. She was walking back to her house and found two tiny kittens in the ditch. They were both healthy, although the smaller orange fluff ball had crusty eyes. Cynthia called me to get advice on what to do with them. She did not think they had been dumped. She just thought that perhaps the mother cat had been moving them and dropped them, planning to return, but getting sidetracked. Cynthia was afraid to leave the kittens where they were because within a few hundred feet there were two large chained dogs that she feared would kill the babies. So she scooped them up and took them down the hill to her house.
Cynthia set the kittens up in their own little kitten “play land” and took care of them.
A few days later, Cynthia was talking to a neighbor who told her about a mother cat that had babies under a shed. The neighbor warned that her husband was going to shoot the cats. Cynthia asked her to please not do that and to let her know where the cat and babies were. She figured this was the mother to her two little ones. The woman had reported that there were two babies still with the mom, but she thought there had been more.
Cynthia asked me last week if she could borrow a trap to try to catch the mom and find the other two kittens. I lent her a trap and she planned to begin her trapping efforts later in the week.
When I talked to Cynthia on Monday, she reported that there had been no sign of the mother cat and kittens. The neighbor said the mother cat had moved the kittens again.
Cynthia also reported, however, that she had “another new face” show up on her back porch. She sent me photos of a very petite tortoiseshell kitty who she said was “very noisy.” Cynthia was worried that the little cat was in heat or already pregnant and asked if we could get her in for clinic this week. We agreed to meet up on Tuesday to do the cat exchange. Cynthia thought the cat had been recently dumped as she was very friendly and was familiar with cat flaps. She also kept continually trying to get in the house with Cynthia.
This morning Cynthia wrote me and said she was “speechless” and there was a crimp in our plan to get the tortie girl in to be fixed.
Turns out, this little girl is the mom to Cynthia’s two kittens. That little cat had somehow hunted down her babies inside Cynthia’s house, ingratiated herself to Cynthia, and then darted inside to find her kittens.
Cynthia said the babies went wild when their mom finally found them in their room. Cynthia also said that she thinks she misjudged why mom was so anxious previously. It was not because she was in heat, but because she was searching for her kittens.
I still cannot believe that this little cat tracked down her two kittens this way. They were in a house and she had to fight her way past Cynthia’s outside cats, go through the cat flap into the back porch, and convince Cynthia to let her inside. And she did all of that to get to her babies. Amazing!
And how, in the world, did she know where they were?
I asked Cynthia if she thought the little mom would lead her to the other kittens. Cynthia said she thought something must have happened to the other babies, as the mother cat had no milk. The kittens tried to nurse, but it was more just a bonding ritual than an actual feeding. Because of the lack of milk, Cynthia thought the other kittens were no longer around and that was the reason the little mother had come looking for her other two babies.
In any case, this is one of the happiest stories I have heard in a while. Of course, we’ll keep you posted if Cynthia does find the other two kittens.
This little family will eventually need new homes, so if you are looking for fluffy, cuddley kittens or a smart mama, we have the cats for you.
I cannot help but notice that the mother cat looks as if she is smiling in these pictures. One satisfied and intelligent creature. Never underestimate the power of a cat…or of a mother.
A lady we had worked with in the past sent me an email about one of her outside kitties who she thought had “something wrong with his jaw.” I collected him to take in to Dr. Murphy at the Spay Neuter Clinic, intending to have him neutered and let Dr. Murphy look at his jaw. I had poor Exodus the night before and noticed that his one tooth hung out of his mouth, but I thought he just had a “snaggle tooth” that needed pulled. Imagine how awful I felt when the Spay Neuter Clinic called me and said the poor cat had a broken jaw that was seriously infected. He had also tested positive for FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus).
While this raggedy kitty had lots of things working against him–his ear was all sliced up, he was missing fur all over his body, he had an engorged tick hanging off his earlobe–he had one major thing working in his favor: his personality. Exodus is the nicest cat you would ever want to meet.
I picked this lover boy up from the Spay Neuter Clinic and took him to Dr. Tom Klein at East Hilliard Veterinary Services. Dr. Tom is the feline dental guru. He is the vet who fixed our little Bean Bag’s jaw last year when it was broken in a trauma.
Dr. Klein was not deterred by the fact that Exodus was FIV positive. He thought that he was too nice to kill and so he kept Exodus to work his healing magic.
This cat had a ton of problems. Whatever broke his jaw came up from the underside of his jaw (sort of like getting hit with an upper cut), pushing a tooth up into his upper palate and fracturing the bone. Fragments of bone were embedded in his nasal cavity. To me, this sounds like a kick. Most animals do not grab under the jaw. They go for the back of the neck. I hope some human did not do this to this cat. It makes my stomach ache to even think of it.
Exodus’ injuries were at least several weeks old. I cannot imagine going around in this much pain for weeks. His whole mouth was filled with infection. Yet, believe it or not, this boy is such a fighter that he was eating hard food and meowing even in this horrible condition.
Just to give you an idea of what Dr. Klein had to repair, here is a list he gave me of all the problems Exodus was facing:
1. His palate was fractured into his nasal cavity–and this happened at least several weeks previousy.
2. His center of his lower jaw was fractured as well as a complete fracture of the middle part of his lower left jaw. Both areas had severe infection.
3. He was under anesthesia for 3 and 1/2 hours (yes, you read that right-3 and 1/2 hours!) and Dr. Klein removed his upper left canine tooth and his lower right one and the remaining teeth on his upper left due to fractures.
4. Dr. Klein attempted to move over the palate defect and repair it.
5. Dr. Klein wired the lower jaw center fracture.
6. The lower left jaw fracture was left after cleaning the site and suturing it. Dr. Klein could not repair the bone at this time due to infection.
7. Exodus was given a 14 day long acting antibiotic and pain medicine. He was bathed and neutered while under. Two ticks were removed and he was treated for tapeworms.
Whew!! Can you imagine if this had happened to a human? Exodus came home with me after two days in the hospital and is eating soft food like a trooper. He is on NO pain medicine. He is on cage rest, however, because Dr. Klein wants him to stay fairly inactive while he is healing.
This cat is just so wonderful. He utterly loves people. I had a hard time taking photos of him because he kept flopping down and rolling around for me to love on him and give belly rubs.
The lady who called me about Exodus is willing to take the boy back with her. But he would have to be an outside kitty as she has a very jealous inside cat. I asked her if we could work on finding him a home and she was very happy to think he might have a safe, inside only haven. So that is what we are doing now.
Exodus will need more vet care in the near future. He goes back to see Dr. Klein on May 20 and will probably need his lower left jaw fixed at that time. Being FIV positive is not a death sentence and Exodus, who is only three years old, can live a long and healthy life. He just needs a home with dogs only, another positive kitty, or by himself. He would be happy to share his life with anyone who wants him.
The virus that produces FIV is usually only passed from one cat to another by fighting or mating. Since Exodus is now neutered, he won’t be doing any of those things any more and will have a hard time giving other cats the disease.
I have to thank Dr. Klein for once again coming to our rescue. He also had a vet student help him with Exodus’ procedures and because of that used the surgery and repair work as a teaching tool, giving us a giant discount.
Dr. Klein’s final words in his summary report were: “Exodus is a great cat!”
I completely agree!
Now it is up to us–I am counting on all of you to help me–to get Exodus into a safe, loving home with a family that does not care that he may never win a “Best in Show” ribbon for his appearance! What Exodus lacks in looks, he makes up for in love.
I just recently learned that two groups I support, one national and one local, will be moving into new and bigger homes, which will allow them to help even more animals.
The first group is Dogs Deserve Better (DDB), a charity in Pennsylvania that is committed to “ending the cruelty of chaining and penning dogs.” Dogs Deserve Better is buying “Bad Newz Kennels,” the property that was previously owned by Michael Vick and facilitated his dog fighting ring. The former site of cruelty and suffering will be transformed by DDB into the “Good Newz Rehab Center for Chained and Penned Dogs.”
I can think of no better way to honor the dogs that died there under Michael Vick’s reign than by giving other dogs that have suffered a new lease on life.
The 15-acre property on Moonlight Road in Virginia contains a house and various sheds. DDB is buying the property for $595,000. The group has already put down 30% ($178,500) and has been approved for a loan for the rest. Now they just need to raise the additional money to pay off the loan, build a fence around the property, and renovate the buildings for their state-of-the-art rehabilitation center. They hope to begin the transformation from Bad Newz to Good Newz by the end of May.
With this new facility, which will also include a memorial for the dogs that died under Michael’s Vick brutal ownership, DDB will be able to help 500 more chained and penned dogs each year. They currently rescue and rehabilitate 400-500 dogs per year in foster homes nationwide. Until now, the group has never had a shelter.
To read more about DDB’s efforts and to make a donation, please go HERE.
The second group that is expanding into new digs is the Humane Society of Madison County (HSMC).
With their move, the shelter will actually be relocating closer to Plain City (which thrills me). Their new building used to be a church. In fact, in a weird twist of fate, it was the church that one of my dear friends, Paul Carpenter, attended before his death in 2001. Paul was a huge animal lover and I know he would be delighted to know that his former church will now be a sanctuary for homeless animals. I went to several church services with Paul and his wife, Jean, at this building. It was also the place where Paul’s funeral was held in December 2001. I know a tiny part of him will be there watching over the animals.
The building, located at 2020 State Route 142 NE, is just off I-70 at the Plain City exit. While the new shelter will have a West Jefferson address, they will only be 10 minutes from Plain City. The building is 5,000 square feet and includes five acres. Geo-Sites, Ltd. bought the property when the church moved and now plans to lease it to the humane society for $1 a year for twenty-five years.
The new site will allow HSMC to house all of their animals in one building. Currently, the dogs are in a block building and the cats are housed in two trailers.
The shelter’s upcoming fundraiser, Cash 4 Kibble Dinner and Auction, will be held at the new building on Saturday, May 21. If you would like to attend and check out the facility, please go to the HSMC web site and download your RSVP form.
HSMC will also need additional funding to help them with their move and renovation. They hope to be in the building by July or August.
With the expansion by DDB and HSMC, more animals will be helped across the country and in our own back yards.