There is a tempting human tendency to see things strictly in terms of black and white, of good and evil. Goodness knows I’m as guilty of this as anyone, and it’s an especially tempting trap to fall into in the world of animal sheltering. With emotion amplified by the tincture of death it’s easy to lapse into excess; surrounding nearly any public shelter you will find critics at the edge of this excess who pepper social media with references to murder and Nazis, typically in all-caps.
My own view of New York City Animal Care and Control (NYCACC or just ACC) has mellowed over the years from the all-caps position. I moved back to my New York City home when the shelter was under the control of people whose actions were nearly completely inexplicable for people who claimed to care for animals, the reins of control firmly held by mayoral administrations that had no care at all. The stench of apathy permeated the buildings, detectable even over the constant animal odor. Still, even then, there were some good people there in a bad place, in a bad situation, people who were doing everything they could to save animals.
Recent developments have been much more encouraging. The most recent administration is the most progressive yet seen there and has been busy enacting a raft of long-awaited changes to increase the number of animals who leave the shelter alive, and the political winds have shifted as well to the benefit of the shelter system and New York City’s animals. Things are not perfect, but they are certainly improving. Even the buildings smell better.
When the current administration really became serious about improvements I observed that one of their challenges would be to infuse the entire organization with their new spirit of lifesaving. The new leaders were believers – one top staffer had told me point-blank that sustaining a save rate of over 90% was a matter of when, not if – but large institutional change, from top to bottom, rarely comes overnight. ACC faces the additional challenge of physical removal, with top managers located offsite in a downtown office building, far from the shelters they control.
With any transition, with change, there are bumps in the road. This is Julia. Like many of the animals who still die nightly, Julia was almost one of those bumps.
Julia came to the shelter as a stray on March 23. You can read all about her on the Urgent site, which publicizes the shelter’s nightly kill lists (among other things). Her evaluation is stellar, she’s friendly, beautiful, no behavior problems, likes dogs and cats, loved by staff and volunteers. A wonderful dog.
Julia was adopted on March 31. By this time she was quite sick, likely the recipient of one of the shelter’s resident diseases. Her adopter had her for only one day before returning her, concerned that they would not be able to help her get healthy – she was reportedly constantly coughing and gagging continuously, vomiting up food and medication. Around April 5, volunteers noticed that her belly was distended and discovered what several medical exams by ACC had missed: Julia was pregnant.
Julia’s first intake exam on March 23 contained the note “enlarged teats, poss post lactation”. Close, but not quite. Her pregnancy (and pre-lactation) undiscovered, Julia had been prescribed doxycycline to treat her illness. Doxycycline is typically not given to pregnant dogs because it inhibits skeletal growth, endangering the health of her pups.
On April 6 Julia was kill listed, offered to both the public and to rescues to save. The news of her pregnancy – although known to the shelter – was concealed, not disclosed in her medical notes. If she was not chosen from the list, her unborn pups would die with her. If she was saved, the shelter would do a “spay abort” prior to her release, likely without informing her adopter. Many people who are not intimately familiar with animal sheltering do not realize that within the mainstream world of sheltering and of shelter medicine, spay abort procedures aren’t even controversial; they are done routinely, with complete support of national animal welfare organizations. Many shelters and s/n clinics will do spay aborts extremely, even horrifyingly, late in pregnancy. Spay aborts come with increased surgical risk – and that risk was already high due to illness and impaired breathing.
At ACC, people who had come to love Julia were sneaking her extra food for the health of her babies and looking for a place where she would be able to deliver them, contacting Pets Alive Westchester.
Aware of her pregnancy, Pets Alive Westchester (PAW) tried to claim her from the kill list, but she had already been reserved by a member of the public, her spay abort scheduled at the shelter for Saturday, April 11 – a 5 day wait in order for her health to improve before attempting the risky procedure. PAW tried to appeal for the life of her puppies, guaranteeing to honor Julia’s adoption once they were weaned. They were denied. Appeals to the supervisor of New Hope, the department that interfaces with rescues, went unanswered. Because of the adoption hold placed by a public adopter, Julia would undergo the risky surgery, her pups relegated to the trash bin.
On Friday April 10, PAW escalated, advocating for Julia’s interests, contacting shelter upper management, and preparing for the possibility of a public information campaign as a last ditch effort to save Julia’s puppies – and Julia – from surgery. Near the close of the business day, at the close of the business week, late on the day before her surgery, word finally came back from ACC: she would go to an adopter’s home and have her puppies, who would be fostered by the adopter until they were old enough to come back to the shelter for adoption.
Although this hopefully spares Julia’s puppies, it’s less than ideal. The shelter that missed her pregnancy and gave her medication that can cause birth defects in her puppies will continue to oversee her medical care. Once weaned and ready for adoption, her puppies are likely to be returned to the shelter where their delicate immune systems will be exposed to the environment where their mother caught a respiratory disease severe enough to land her on a list for destruction. PAW had hoped for better for her and for them. But the adopter’s hold must be honored, the outcome information controlled, the course likely to result in the most successful lifesaving outcome not chosen for the purpose of PR.
It is not fair to penalize a person or an organization for mistakes made in good conscience, or to leverage those mistakes for PR – and yes, I’ve been as guilty of that as anyone and I’m trying to evolve. Animals are not potted plants; shelters present ample opportunity for human error, unexpected events, medical mysteries. This past week I accidentally left a bag of medications on my kitchen counter. Attracted to the delicious smell of Heartguard, one of my dogs pulled the bag from the counter and chewed up the assorted bottles, ingesting unknown quantities of powerful medications. I paid dearly for my mistake, both financially and in concern for my dog – I cried with relief when, at 3am in the emergency room, the vet told me that she thought he was going to be all right. I risked his life in what was not an act of good or evil; I made a mistake.
Patterns are a slightly different matter. When an animal is repeatedly seen by medical staff for at least two intake exams and several follow-ups and a detail like pregnancy is missed, only to be pointed out by volunteers a mere four days after an intake exam, that’s a pattern. Patterns like that can be troubling. In April of 2014, one year ago, ACC announced a goal of having every intake exam being done by a vet and I’m not sure that happened here. Patterns of rigidly adhering to policy and procedure when that procedure clearly contradicts what is an ethical imperative are also troubling; 48 hours of internal debate and external maneuvering to accomplish a clear ethical imperative are more than troubling because there should be no debate. When one can choose life, that is what you do, at every level from the janitor to the Chairman of the Board. Rarely should requests to act in what is clearly and unquestionably the best interests of an animal require working their way up to senior management.
Some years ago I interviewed for a position at one of the country’s best municipal open-admission No Kill shelters. I spent the entire day there, meeting and talking to many of the staff at all levels, from kennel cleaners to the Executive Director. I later remarked to the ED how astounded I was that nearly every person I had talked to at some point dropped into the conversation, somehow, saving lives. “I’m here to save lives.” “I like to save lives.” “I’m proud to save lives.” They had distilled their mission to such a simple essence and communicated that so effectively throughout the entire organization, and their employees seemed genuinely empowered to do that at every level – to choose the right thing. I reflect on that experience often. I wonder how there can be success without it.
I like data. Recent data – data that I believe is accurate – show that New York City shelters have improved, greatly. I believe that this is true. But data and statistics do not show the whole story. While some would call it anecdote, what one of my statistic geek friends calls “hand-selected artisanal data” indicates that New York has some distance yet to travel. These are not matters of good and evil necessarily but of problems to be solved, attitudes to change, evolutions to encourage. While we all want things to be perfect overnight, evolution can be messy. As I’ve said, there are always bumps in the road.
I am glad Julia was not one of them, though I remain somewhat disappointed with the outcome. We will work with and ally with and encourage others to cooperate with anyone, to the very best of our abilities, who will commit themselves to saving the Julias, to correcting mistakes, to making every effort to do the right thing, until the day when all the Julias are saved and the kill list is no more. What stands in our way we will fight to the best of our ability with every tool we can. When lives are at stake and there is something that can be done that may save them the ethical imperative is very clear.
One of my rescue mentors taught me something that I’m still trying to absorb completely: that there is value in disagreement, and not to back down on matters of conscience or ethics – to not be quiet when you’re screaming inside; to have the uncomfortable discussions or disagreements or arguments or downright bloody fights (metaphorically speaking) in matters of practice, of legislation, of ethics. But, she counseled, you must never hesitate to lay down your sword and join together with your opponent when there is an opportunity to help an animal. That should be the most important thing of all, and no matter how bloody the fight, how deep the disagreement, that is the one thing we cannot afford to lose sight of – what all this is for.
Board President and Chairman, Pets Alive
Filed in NYCACC by John Sibley on Apr 15, 2015. There are 3 comments.
This is cat A1022805. We call him Bennett. He was found in a box at a firehouse in Manhattan and brought to New York City Animal Care and Control. He’s safe with Pets Alive now, just so you know. I’m telling you this because some of what follows is not so nice, and so I want to assure you ahead of time that it will work out fine.
The NYCACC publishes a list every night of all of the animals scheduled for euthanasia in the morning. It’s a horrible part of our jobs to look at this list but look at it we do, because if you don’t look, you can’t save them. The rescue group Urgent publicly shares the lists. You can see the cat one HERE and the dog one HERE – but remember that the people from Urgent are the good guys who are doing what they can to help the animals in NYC shelters. Be nice to them, because they aren’t the ones killing the animals. They are the ones working their tails off to get them safe.
Bennett showed up on the list last week and Sue, who works in our adoptions and intakes department, sent me a text with a link. “Look at this poor cat.” It said. And here was the photo of Bennett that came with it. Now, here’s a secret about me. I CAN NOT STAND it when an animal is skinny. I freak out and have an overwhelming urge to immediately feed them ten cans of food. It’s my kryptonite, and now you know. So when I saw in the description that Bennett weighed FOUR POUNDS, I immediately told Sue to pull him so that I could get him into foster at my house as soon as possible. Without hesitation Sue put in a pull request for Bennett and we waited for him to arrive.
When we pull a sick animal, we spend some time feeling REALLY anxious. You never quite know what will happen when the animal shows up. The big fear is that they will be much sicker than what the information provided let on, and that we may not be able to get them well. There is literally no worse feeling in the world than an animal finally getting to safety and then not making it because they were just too far-gone. Sometimes we get lucky and they look better than we anticipated. Bennett did not.
Bennett arrived via New Hope transport on Friday afternoon. I took the carrier into Janet’s office, and opened it. Inside was the most pathetic little cat I have ever seen – and that’s saying something. This poor guy was covered in his own feces. It was absolutely caked on. He was light as a feather. Dehydrated. Stumbling and having a hard time staying upright. And he also was purring. He poked his tiny head up and pushed it into my hand to be pet.
It took Sam, one of our volunteers, and I the better part of an hour to wash the feces off Bennett. He stood there like a champ the entire time, just letting us bathe him. I can imagine it must have felt nice. When we got him as clean as we possibly could, we wrapped him in towels, held him until he was dry, and then I took him home. He was so matted we couldn’t even brush him. We just cut off the largest ones and planned on him being groomed in the very near future.
With a vet appointment scheduled for the next morning, Bennett spent night one of his rescue bundled in a fleece blanket, on a heating bad, on a cat bed, in a crate in my spare bedroom. He slept like a rock.
The next morning I took him to Middlehope Veterinary Hospital in Newburgh, where they ran a myriad of tests. Bennett got IV fluids, a sedation and shave to remove all his matted and filthy fur, and a ton of medication to stop the diarrhea. He stayed hospitalized for two days while our vets tried to figure out what was causing the loose stool. ALL of Bennett’s testing came back negative or normal. Whatever happened to him, we think Bennett just didn’t have enough to eat. Bennett’s upset stomach seems to be caused by not eating for a LONG time, and then being free fed at NYCACC.
Bennett is now resting comfortably in his crate in my spare room. With no fur, he looks like an odd cross between a cat and a rat. It’s not the most attractive haircut, but it will grow out. You can see every bone in his painfully thin frame, but he’s already gained a half a pound.
Bennett has a long, long road ahead of him, and we hope that he makes it through. Being as severely malnourished as he is, it will be touch and go for a while, and we’ll all be praying that he gets better. There are some things we DO know about what’s next. Bennett won’t die covered in his own feces, alone, with no one to love him. Bennett won’t need to be afraid any longer. Bennett won’t be uncomfortable. Bennett won’t be hungry. Bennett won’t be cold. Bennett won’t be sad. Bennett will have all the love he wants, and then some.
When you support us financially, you make all of these things possible for EVERY animal we save. YOU ensure that NO ANIMAL we rescue is frightened, hungry, cold, sad or alone. We may have the hands that do the work, but we do it on behalf of all of our supporters. The love Bennett has now doesn’t just come from me. The love that Bennett has comes from you, too. YOU make it possible for us to save lives. So thank you. For Bennett. For all of them.
We firmly believe that there will come a day when every animal like Bennett is safe.
Thank you for helping us get one step closer each and every day to completing our mission.
If you’d like to sign up for a small monthly sponsorship and help save animals every day, you can do that HERE.
We truly appreciate your support and Bennett will too! We will post updates on his progress!
This is a story about Dice, a cat who had the bad luck to break his leg in Brooklyn. It’s the story of how we saved his life. It’s also a story about believing in the no kill movement, and about how Pets Alive saves the lives of animals every day.
There’s a group called Urgent that works to save lives of thousands of animals stuck in New York City’s Animal Care and Control. They are volunteer run and work tirelessly at all hours of the night to help dogs and cats in danger of being killed. They are kind people with big hearts who truly believe that No Kill is inevitable, like we do here at Pets Alive. Urgent works with the New Hope team at the NYCACC facilities. The New Hope Department at NYCACC works with various rescues to save animals that are slated to be killed. Collaboration saves lives.
What Urgent does is compile the profile information of all of the animals that are slated to be killed, and publish them every night on social media. They call this the “Urgent List.” Good samaritans all over the country then network to help the animals on the list by sharing them, contacting rescues who might be interested in saving them, and helping people through the rescue process.
Dice’s profile the night he was on the list looked like this:
Now, as you can imagine, working at Pets Alive I encounter hundreds of pictures daily of animals in need of rescue. Although every one is heart breaking, some tend to resonate with you more than others. I don’t know what it was about Dice. Maybe it was the way that he held his broken leg up in the photo. I knew his injuries would be expensive to treat, but I could not stop thinking how scared he must be, all alone and in pain. I checked his intake date again- November 13th- I checked my calendar November 16th. This poor boy had been sitting with a broken leg for 3 days already.
I asked Sue, Adoptions and Intakes Team, to contact New Hope and let them know Pets Alive wanted to pull this cat immediately. Three very anxious days went by before we finally received a response on November 19th. We were terrified they had already killed him. We contacted them multiple times throughout those three days- begging for a response or an update on his status- FINALLY- we received a response that he was still in their facility and that we were confirmed to pull him.
Dice arrived to Pets Alive on November 21, after spending a total of 8 days with animal care and control. Although he had a splint, he had not had any medication for the pain. He was immediately rushed to the veterinarians office and received a full work up.
X-rays revealed that his front leg was broken in two places. Since he had been so long without proper medical care, his bones were beginning to set incorrectly. He would need a new cast every week or two until his leg healed, with multiple follow up x-rays to monitor his progress.
We cannot even imagine the stress Dice has encountered since that fateful day he was brought to CACC. Knowing he sat in a cage in pain and fearful of his surroundings. Then he was placed in a cardboard box and took the hour and a half car ride to Pets Alive only to be immediately rushed to the vet’s to diagnose, set and cast his injuries. But after spending even just a few moments with Dice you wouldn’t know how much he had been through. He was so happy to be in comforting arms. He loved the attention (and probably the pain medication too!).
Unfortunately all of the trauma of the entire ordeal may have caught up to Dice. He has not been sleeping well. He trembles when he is frightened. I’ve seen him forcing his little eyes open to stay awake, he seems to be afraid to go to sleep- like all of this warmth, love and comfort will somehow disappear and he will be back in that cage waiting to die. We knew the best place for Dice was in a foster home where he could get appropriate peace and quiet, so I took him home to my house. There he will stay until he is well enough to be adopted. Dice enjoyed a well-deserved sleep last night and some cuddle time on the couch.
Because of the extent of Dice’s injuries he will need multiple follow up x-rays followed by re-casting. We know his care will be very expensive and we need some help. We thank you all so much for your support.
When Pets Alive, and other rescues, partner with groups like Urgent and New Hope we all work towards the common goal of saving the lives of animals in shelters and giving them the chance they deserve to heal from their injuries, illnesses or behavioral needs. We will continue to support the NYCACC when they choose LIFE over DEATH. We will continue to partner with New Hope, Urgent and all of the groups who work tirelessly to network those who are in danger of being placed on the next nightly kill list. Your support helps us to help them. Your support will help us reach the goal of a No Kill New York. Thank you for all you do and thank you for helping us save Dice and the thousands of others that still need us!
By Erin Small-Guilshan, Shelter Manager Pets Alive Westchester
I have heard these words countless times by Pets Alive staff and volunteers, “This is why we do what we do”. We save lives. Give medical attention when it’s needed. Sit with the shy ones, snuggle with the animals craving attention and provide them with love. In turn, we get to see them thrive and it’s when we see them go to a home, that’s when we say, “This is why we do what we do.”
We do all we can to better the lives of animals by all means possible.
This is who we are. This is what we do.
This is the first picture of Mitsy that I saw when I was looking on the NYCACC (New York City Animal Care & Control) list for animals that we could potentially save this past week. She looks like any other healthy tabby cat. But it was in the next picture that what I saw shocked me.
We knew we HAD to get her to Pets Alive Westchester as soon as possible! She needed medical attention IMMEDIATELY and we could provide it for her. We could help her. There was no question about it. We were going to save this girl and get her eye taken care of as soon as possible. She had been at ACC for 3 days and who knows how long prior to her arrival that she had been suffering.
It was 7:20 pm. ACC closes at 7:00 pm. An email was immediately sent to ACC to tell them that we could get her the medical care she so desperately needed. I then tried to call hoping that maybe, just maybe someone would still be there. How could anyone just allow this poor girl to suffer? By the way it looked in the picture, her eye was about to rupture if it hadn’t already.
I called them and got their answering system. Here’s what I heard:
“Press 1 if you would like to adopt an animal.
Press 2 if you would like to surrender an animal.
Press 3 if you would like to report neglect or abuse of an animal”.
I could say a few things here about what I was thinking at the time, but I think I’ll save that for another day. I shook my head and hung up the phone realizing they were all gone for the day.
John Sibley does all of our transports from NYCACC. He had been working all week with me to help pull animals and transport them to Pets Alive West. John rushed to get Mitsy first thing in the morning and brought her to us where she received immediate medical attention. When he got to Pets Alive and we examined her, we could see that her eye had indeed ruptured at this point. Despite the discomfort she was in, she was alert and very affectionate.
Here’s what our plan is for Mitsy: We need to fight the infection in her eye. If we performed surgery immediately we would have risked her becoming septic. We also want the swelling to go down as much as possible prior to surgery. We need to be safe and look at all the factors. She is also a bit malnourished, and she should be as nutritionally sound as possible. She will be on antibiotics and eye drops to take away any pain for the next week. This will help reduce the swelling and will get rid of the infection prior to surgery. Her surgery is scheduled to be done on Thursday, 5/16 and we will be sure to update everyone on her progress on our Facebook page!
In the meantime, she is getting so much love and attention from the staff at Pets Alive West. She is an amazing girl with a great spirit about her! We have a lot of hope that she will do well in surgery, make a full recovery and be placed in a loving home. She deserves this.
A Chance at Life
We pulled 25 animals from ACC this past week. Monday through Thursday there was not a day that John wasn’t there to transport them. I went with him a couple of days since I had never been there before. I’m still very new at this shelter manager thing, but I do know that in the past it was fairly easy to be able to pull many animals very quickly as the ACC really needs to have as much space as they can for new intakes. I was SHOCKED at how difficult it was for us to pull any dogs. We must have requested up to 40 dogs that we wanted to save, and in four days time we were able to save just 4 dogs. They have now put in place an additional hold for animals to have time to be available for adoptions, which means they will be holding them there longer. I understand they would like to have an opportunity to adopt them out, but I’m wondering what will happen as their space fills and the animals get sicker and sicker. I think we all know the answer to that. The kill list will get larger and larger. This may not go the way that they have planned.
We were able to successfully pull 4 dogs, 10 cats, 11 kittens plus a momma cat had 4 kittens who were born at Pets Alive West yesterday.
4 of the kittens we took are bottle babies that are only four weeks old – one bottle baby was only a day old when we took her. It’s rare that a baby so young will live without the mother. Even feeding by a bottle, it’s just not the same as having the mother there to feed and nurture her the way a baby this young needs in order to survive, but we had to try. We immediately found a volunteer willing to take care of her. There are times when you wonder how it will all work out, and then you realize that it will, because if there is a will, there is a way. The pregnant mother cat had her kittens. What luck! We hoped that she would accept the bottle baby into her litter too. If she accepted her, we knew she’d survive for sure. She immediately accepted her into her litter of babies, and you can see it here.
We were checking the urgent lists every night. On Wednesday we saw a cat named Ginger that had a leg injury with a bandage on it. The information on him said that his leg may need to be amputated. This could be a VERY costly expense. I continued to look at others but kept going back to him. I kept reading the short write up and thinking of the possible scenarios that could happen with his leg. We’d have to find an orthopedic surgeon if the leg had to be amputated. The ACC didn’t do an x-ray to see if it was broken or what the issue was, they simply wrapped it, took his picture and posted him to the internet. I decided that we couldn’t leave him like this. No one else pulled him. We needed to. Like many others, Ginger needed our help. Ginger was saved yesterday and brought to the Animal Hospital of White Plains immediately for an x-ray. The results were that he has a fractured leg, and no surgery is necessary. He also had an injury that wasn’t attended to on his paw, so at the hospital they flushed it out and treated the wound. They wrapped up his leg and he will be on light rest for up to 4 weeks. That was the best news we could have heard. We rescued this sweet 1 year old boy, got him treated and soon he will be adopted into a loving home.
That’s when you hear “This is why we do what we do.” We don’t give up. We won’t ever give up.
We could never have saved so many lives, could never have taken in animals that needed so much care this week without you. Your support is what enabled us to do this and enables us to keep doing it. You truly are the lifeline for these animals. Thank you for all you do to help support them so they can have the lives they deserve.
We want to keep doing this. We will keep doing this. We want to be able to continue to save animals with or without medical issues.
We can’t do this without you.
Please consider making a donation to the Critical Care Medical Fund today. Together we can be the difference between life and death.
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!