Life Is Precious

By Jenessa Taylor, Executive Director, Pets Alive Westchester

As many of you know last week Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the Northeast – particularly coastal areas of New Jersey and much of New York City. We at Pets Alive Westchester consider ourselves incredibly lucky as we were spared the flooding and power outages that we saw with Hurricane Irene last year. Unfortunately NYC was not so lucky and suffered major flooding, extremely high winds and large fires. In its aftermath it became apparent that many animals were in extreme danger in the city shelter system.

When a staff member at New York City Animal Care and Control (NYCACC) called us we believed, or rather perhaps we wanted to believe that they were finally making the changes necessary to help save lives. As you may recall Pets Alive had already taken on a massive intake of kittens and cats this past spring (dubbed the Itty Bitty Kitty Rescue) in which 108 felines were pulled from the NYCACC centers in just two weeks. At that time their “kill list” numbers were astronomical and we couldn’t bear to watch so many young and adoptable animals be slaughtered. The goal- as it always is – was to alleviate the “overcrowding” at the city shelters so that no healthy or adoptable cat would face needless euthanasia. Of course that rescue was full of some serious medical cases – most of the kittens were dangerously ill, requiring weeks of care and medication. The most serious required immediate surgeries to remove eyes that had been left for days with untreated infections. For more information on the Itty Bitty Kitty Rescue please read here. Beyond that Pets Alive has pulled countless of animals from their death sentences over the years.

OK, I’ve digressed –
On Thursday November 1st, just days after the storm hit, one of our contacts inside the NYCACC called to say they were facing massive kill lists in the coming days. She desperately wanted to start the process of getting as many animals out to rescue as possible before the killing started again. We were shocked that they were doing something so proactive, so contrary to what they have always done in the past. Now it’s winter – a very tough time of year for us. Expenses sky rocket, adoptions begin to slow down and we struggle each day just to keep our heads above water. But this was the NYCACC and I knew that those animals would have zero chance without us. I told her that yes we would help and I pulled 30 animals including kittens, nursing moms and a pregnant cat. I knew they would all most likely be very sick, would be with us for weeks and the youngest of the kittens may possibly need extra care, but these were lives and we could save them…

I called John Sibley, my favorite transporter and rescuer extraordinaire, and gave him very simple instructions – go to the Manhattan and Brooklyn NYCACC centers tomorrow morning and fill your car with cats. He, of course, never hesitated and said I’ll be there as soon as they open! Through massive power outages, major flooding, widespread destruction and a bit of chaos John was true to his word and arrived first thing the next morning. While he was there he noticed a few very adorable dogs and texted me if we could fit them into the transport. He was given the ok to pull a few dogs along with the 30 cats. And then the strangest thing happened, the Manhattan center told him no. We were all in complete disbelief. A transporter, representing a qualified New Hope partner was standing in front of them begging them to save lives and was denied. Once again our hope for a new NYCACC vanished. As John moved on to the Brooklyn center he was granted access and was able to pull just two dogs for us there.

All of our anger, our disbelief and our frustrations were temporarily relieved when our animals arrived that Friday afternoon. The kittens were ALL adorable and surprisingly most were still in fairly good health. We had ended up pulling a small litter of neonatal kittens, bottle babies, and were fortunate to find a foster home for them within hours of their arrival. The two dogs, Lexi and Daisy, were so sweet and so happy to see us.

But it was the pregnant cat that truly took my breath away and I was in love the instant I saw her. Her name is Precious and I could not have given her a more appropriate name. She has a bit of sass to her when you first approach but the moment you sit down on the floor her she lets her guard down and she just showers you with snuggles, purrs and love. She is a tiny little girl- she looks like a kitten herself- and had such a large protruding belly. It was apparent that she was due to give birth any minute. Obviously it is not ideal for any animal to give birth in a shelter environment. No matter how good your protocols are, no matter how careful you can be – there is still a risk. However, the Pets Alive family – both staff and volunteers – are an incredible group of people and Karen, a Pets Alive Middletown staff member, stepped up to foster our sweet Precious through her pregnancy, birth and nursing weeks. The very next day she went into labor and gave birth to 5 beautiful and healthy kittens. We all realized that we got her out just in time. Kittens born in NYCACC hardly every make it out alive… today mom and kittens are doing wonderfully, Precious is an excellent mommy!!

In the last few days we have seen many of the large organizations begin to fundraise heavily in the name of Hurricane Sandy animals, yet these organizations do very little, if anything for the animals at NYCACC – an organization that, when given life saving alternatives, will deny a rescuer access to their animals. An organization that is funded by the many taxpayers of New York City. An organization that will kill young, healthy and adoptable animals rather than promote adoption and work closely with rescue groups. It’s beyond heartbreaking to watch. It’s beyond frustrating to pull as many animals as we can fit, even when faced with the fear of expenses it would cause, and yet the killing continues. At some point we have to determine if we can continue to work with an organization that refuses to choose LIFE over DEATH.

We have also reached out to the many other rescues and shelters across Staten Island, NYC and New Jersey that have been affected by Sandy. We are committed to lending a hand to any organization willing to find an alternative to death.

We are so thankful to all of you for continuing to support us. For believing that each and every life is truly PRECIOUS and deserves the chance to be loved, to be held, to be cherished.

YOU can help choose LIFE!! Please consider a donation today!

And be sure to buy your tickets to CATsino Night NOW!!

Filed in Animal Rescue, No-kill, NYCACC by John Sibley on Nov 14, 2012.  There are 1 Comment

One Response to “Life Is Precious”

  1. Chelsea Says:

    It is awesome that Pets Alive was able to pull animals from NYC ACC! I have made a few calls myself trying to pull an animal and I get no where. The shelter is very difficult to work with! Animals fall through the cracks easily and it is wrong! Euthanasia is not a solution and it is devastating that so many great animals get killed when all they deserve is to be loved.

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