Animal Rescue Operating Under the Radar

This is an interesting example of an established American animal rescue operation, linked to Petfinder.com, with a decent website that operated “under the radar” meaning in violation of the local law (ordinance) that residents must only keep a maximum of five animals on the property.

This is a person trying to do some good while at the same time doing wrong both in respect of the law and in the way she operated. She failed to cope and I have a feeling that she might have been in it for the money because most of the cats were kept in an unlit basement. The cats (41 of them) lived in poor conditions and have been seized by the police. The owner refused to release the cats to the local authority.

Her name is Anette Traore. If I not mistaken this is a screenshot of her website.

Almost Home Animal RescueShe had helpers. The website shows a number of dogs for adoption as well, yet the news story makes no mention of dogs. I suspect they are living in another house owned by the partners and the police should also have a look at those homes.

I couldn’t find an address on the website. The address provided is a PO Box number. Neither could I find a telephone number. Contact is made by email. There is a lack of transparency which is unsurprising as the operation was illegal. Although there is no news about prosecution or whatever. Therefore, strictly speaking, this is an allegation at the present time.

The photos of the cats and dogs for adoption on Petfinder are quite nice – good conditions etc.. The photos were taken in a local pet store it seems to me. Or something like that. Once again an apparent lack of transparency.

It is a shame. I suspect it is impractical or financially nonviable for an individual to start up an animal rescue operation from a dedicated facility that probably requires a licence, forcing people to operate from home. Perhaps something should be done about that.

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Animal Rescue Operating Under the Radar — 40 Comments

  1. I’m always sad when, possibly well intentioned people, bite off more than they can chew.

    She may or may not have been in it for $$. That the cats lived in less than optimal conditions is my biggest concern. However, I’m not reading that there was neglect or abuse. City ordinances, watch dogs, and red tape impede people from getting licensed. She may have had to be illusive because of repurcussions from authorities. That would be why contact is difficult or why she had to hide the cats away. This is very real here.

    That, according to her website, she adopts out from Petsmart tells me a lot. Petsmart is extremely reputable here and associated with Banfield.

    I think this woman was trying her best to keep cats out of kill shelters.

    Sorry, Michael.

    • Don’t be sorry Dee. I am guessing. The guess comes from the fact that she wants to rescue cats but keeps them in very poor conditions. Anyone who is genuinely concerned about cats wouldn’t do that in my opinion. Better to do something else to help cats than help them with one hand and hurt them with the other.

      However, I don’t know her and I am pretty sure she is a good woman. So this may be more about just not thinking it through or not being able to cope.

      Apparently, she has been in trouble a few times before.

  2. But, what are “poor conditions”, Michael? By whose standards? I can’t find specifics. That’s the problem. Were they emaciated, without food or water, injured/dying?
    “In trouble before” is vague.

    You are thinking like a Brit, Michael. God love you, guys! Your world is eutopia!

  3. OK, I read the story and am still in defense of this woman.

    I’m not readibg about abuse/neglect. The cat with the head stuck, I believe is sensationalism. Overflowing litter boxes are what anybody can see in my house every 2 A.M. when I get up.

    Granted, I don’t have 41 cats inside here, but I wake up to a total disaster every morning.

    I, completely, understand the need for her to “black out” her windows from view. It’s abosolutely necessary here for multicat caretakers. Understand, that “they” want to kill our cats! We live in fear.

    Look at what happened to Elisa!

    • Thanks Dee. I have a lot sympathy for her. She could have scaled back a lot to a much more manageable number. In fact 5 cats would have made her legal and she could have turned them over quickly and kept them in proper pens that were better sited (with daylight). I don’t want to be too critical of her because she wants to help cats but 41 cats in a basement in a residential home in what looks like suburbs is a bit difficult to sustain.

      The cat with the head stuck, I believe is sensationalism

      Agreed totally

      • I just have a gut feeling that there is something wrong with the way this woman’s situation is portrayed. I’m sure she didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to get 41 cats. It evolved over time because there are so, so many strays. I don’t see how she could have “scaled back” any more than she was. Take 36 to the kill shelter?

        It’s obvious that she was trying to adopt out. The most important issue to me is that she was presenting cats at PETSMART for adoption. I know Petsmart and Banfield very well. I know the standards that must be met before Petsmart will consider allowing anyone to adopt out of there. She would not have been able to show anything other than healthy cats.

        I’m having trouble finding any real abuse. I don’t see her NEVER having light in the basement since she has to see herself. But, even if she turned out lights, most basements have windows that let in daylight. Perhaps, at night, there was darkness; but my house is completely dark at night too.

        I think this woman is getting a real bad rap!

        • Here is a comment posted on Knoxnews.com yesterday:

          October 10, 2013
          7:57 p.m.

          luvs2paint writes:

          Yesterday this comment was posted in response to another comment:
          ____________
          DogLady writes:

          You are the only one who has come close to “guessing” at the real story here. This is a very good, and respected, rescue. It is not run out of this home. This is the home of a foster and officer of the group who recently had to take in more cats than usual due to two unforeseen circumstances and was working on getting them placed. All were fully vetted and healthy. Records on each were given to the authorities. The basement is primarily above ground and about a thousand sq. feet of living space, including a large den, two bedrooms, and a large bathroom. An authority from another department went into the home a very short time after the “raid” and found it clean and “smelling better than her home with a
          few cats.” The only mess was what the animal control officers created. This is probably some sort of personal vendetta against the foster who is a dedicated animal rescuer. Yes, there were too many cats in her house at the time, but, a raid with officers breaking into her house and coming in with guns drawn was ridiculous. They searched the entire house, including her underwear drawers. She and the cats are the victims here. Hopefully, our legal system will agree.

          • Thanks Dee. I like this comment. All my comments and the article are based on what I read and and what I can guess from what I read. If this comment is true and correct, I’ll take it back and apologize.

            I am fully aware that nothing is black and white. All we can do is read the stories and have an opinion.

            I would love to know how this works out. Perhaps the newspapers are exaggerating.

            • I’m going to try to follow this, because something isn’t right.
              I’m finding some speculation, now, that her situation was reported and exaggerated by a couple who had adopted 2 cats from her. She retrieved them when she learned they had DECLAWING appointments, which is in violation their adoption agreement.

    • You are right about the litter boxes. I just have one cat, but in the morning his litter box has been used, I have to scoop it. Every day, probably two to six times a day depending on how much water he drank and whether he does the poop and pee on the same trip in there or at different times, I’m scooping for him. That’s one cat and it’s work to keep up. Multiple cats and multiple boxes and it becomes a full time job just to scoop boxes. Take the photo before she starts the job and it’s going to look pretty bad. I’m saying she could have been trying hard and still have had it look bad at certain times. However, too many cats is just too many and it gets to the point where no one can keep up with all their care.

  4. The fact they were in a basement means they were sharing air space, which is NOT advisable. One sick animal in a situation like that leads to a basement full of sick animals. Also they need outside enclosed access, it may not seem like she was doing anything too bad, but she was.

    • As you can see Vicky, I struggle to accept what she was doing. Personally, if I wanted to help cats by rescuing them I’d make sure it was legal because otherwise you’re constantly on edge of being found out and being prosecuted and secondly, I could not put my cats in a basement where they lived in cages that are not cleaned out regularly. It is helping cats and hurting cats it seems to me. If you have the right mentality it should all be about helping cats with no hurt.

      • Granted, having 41 cats wasn’t legal in her area. Can’t get around that.
        However, as I read, the cats were uncaged and had free roam of at least 3 rooms. They were healthy and vet records were presented to authorities.
        I don’t know, but something just doesn’t sit right. I’m going to try to follow this situation.

        • They were healthy and vet records were presented to authorities.

          Dee, if this is correct, it is very important evidence that this lady is being hounded and attacked, unjustifiably.

          If you can find out something – the truth – please tell us. I want this person and the cats to be treated fairly.

    • It’s very upsetting that a lot of cats in the USA have no access to outdoors or fresh air at all and that declawing was started there to protect peoples furniture when people started keeping them strictly indoors. Yes cats can adjust to living indoors if they have to but I feel that in places where it’s too dangerous to give them their freedom, they should at least have some sort of outdoor run, some access to fresh air and sunshine and grass.

  5. Also I promised you some pics of my newest foster and her kittens a couple of weeks ago, here they are 🙂 Couldn’t find another thread they might have been more suitable in …

  6. I strongly believe that any rescue has a responsibility to make sure the animals in their care have the best environment, over here I know of sanctuaries where the cats are kept in cement cells without windows, outdoor runs or environment enrichment, no vet checks no vaccinations adopted out for a fee too. Its just wrong in my eyes and I don’t buy the “oh people dumped them” oh we get no help” sorry but folk running places like this have choice and as I said with that choice comes responsibility and if they rescuing without neutering and allowing animals on site to breed as well as buying in exotic animals they are not a rescue not in my eyes.
    As you can tell its something I feel strongly about yet daily I am amazed at the people who find this acceptable 🙁

    • Marion you are to be much admired for your high standards and how I wish all cats were as well looked after as the ones in the care of our CP branch are.

    • I am so pleased you think like I do. Thanks. We agree that if a person is in cat rescue the standards have to be high because cat rescuers have to set a high standard. They are an example of how to care for cats. People look up to them. They are rescuing cats from poor conditions. The cats have to go to a better life before being rehomed.

    • Marion, I so admire you and your work. I wish, every day, that the rules and mindsets of the UK would spread to here.

      For the most part, the independent cat rescue groups here, are legitimate and compassionate. Like this woman’s rescue, my close association is with a group that keep the adoptees in their home and foster until adopted. They have cats 24/7 for view at Petsmart. I’m sure you may be surprised to learn that one member (a police officer) has 50* being fostered by her and caretakes one large feral colony. Another member fosters cats that are TNTC (too numerous to count). I know that I’m not capable of handling those numbers, living alone.

      But. “cat dumping” is very real here. Every spring and fall, I wake up to litters dumped on my deck. The only choices in dealing with this are to try to adopt out like mad or take them to a kill shelter. Perhaps you have more choices; but, we don’t. What would you do if you found 4-5 litters a year dumped on your porch? Please give me some insight or any alternatives you can think of.

      • We have no more choices than you do, Dee. I volunteer for the Cats Protection branch Marion co-ordinates and I am just one fosterer, this year alone I have had 3 dumped mothers and their kittens in foster and a dumped 5 week old kitten, and that’s just me.

        • Thanks, Vicky, for letting me known that I’m not alone.
          There have been times that I’ve opened my door and just burst into tears, especially in late fall when it can be cold here, even in Florida. They’re hungry, cold, and crying.
          Maybe that’s one of the reasons I feel for this woman. I don’t believe her cats were cold, hungry, or crying. In the scheme of things, her cats were so much better off than many.

          • it can be very difficult Dee but we all do our best for the cats in question, heart an head collide but responsibility for their welfare has to be paramount and rescues that take cats yet the cats suffer while in their care aren’t helping cats. of course I don’t know what happened in this case and can only have opinion on what I have seen here in UK which is a huge difference in duty of care. if a person sets up a rescue, accepts monies from the public yet doesn’t use that money on necessary vet checks that is a bad rescue ;-(

            • From what I am reading, $$ was well spent. The cats were vetted, vaccinated, spayed/neutered. This woman also was recognized by SPCA and awarded funds as their “rescue group of the week”.
              Again, I need some insight….
              What would your game plan be if 25-30 cats/kittens were dumped outside your door every years? I need some direction that is different from what I have.

              • For me (not being a cat rescuer) my game plan would be to make sure people realised that I had limits and to make sure I enforced them. I think people will abuse good natured people (cat rescuers) and dump unwanted cats on them. It is up to the rescuer to manage these situations firmly and refuse.

                There has to be limits to what an individual can do. Ignoring them results in these sorts of problems.

              • recognition from other places isn’t always a good reference as I am sure SPCA didn’t see the conditions the cats were kept in. As you say Dee at least the funds were spent on neutering etc which shows she was trying but fact remains she should not have chose to keep cats in such conditions as to what she should do with so many dumping my advice would have been to contact other agencies. Sometimes collectors think they are the only ones who can care for the cats when that simply isn’t the case.

              • Thanks. I’m one of the lucky ones that can get help with adopting out my “dumps” from a couple of private rescue groups. I, definitely, have my limits.

                I have posted signs that clearly state that I will pursue an arrest and procecution as animal abandonment is a felony. I, also, have 2 security cameras just because of this issue.

                It’s better than it used to be, but there are some very clever people that ignore signs and dump outside camera view.

          • I don’t believe her cats were cold, hungry, or crying. In the scheme of things, her cats were so much better off than many.

            I think this is a good point Dee. There are no easy answers to this. It is complicated.

  7. I’ve been so frustrated wanting to join in this page (and others on PoC)but my computer has been/may still be, on the blink, I post on PoC pages and click send only to see it disappear into thin air, but here’s trying again and hoping ……
    I think it’s very wrong to keep cats in a basement, no natural light, no fresh air and the litter trays filthy. all those cats shouldn’t be expected to get along peacefully either. I can imagine the quieter ones being bullied. This woman sounds to me like a cat hoarder, it’s not fair on cats to take too many to cope with. I know because we had a cat hoarder here and after we found out she was a conwoman and just using us for money and help and we challenged her, she kept us out and we were unable to see the cats indoors were OK, only the ones in the garden. It ended terribly when the RSPCA took 4 neglected cats away and the rest went to a sanctuary. What I’m saying is that one person can’t look after too many cats as they should be looked after. She had 15 cats and that was far too many to care about individually, so 41 definately was too many! Maybe this woman meant well and it’s easy to keep taking more and more cats thinking what would happen to them otherwise but it’s not fair on the cats
    So no Michael you are not setting too high a standard, all cats deserve to be cared for to a high standard!

    • Thanks Ruth. I totally agree. I am pleased that you were able to get a comment published. I miss your comments! 😉

      This is a case of cat rescue that was bordering on or developed into cat hoarding (as you state). As I stated, money may have been another factor because on the website there was a PayPal donate button.

      I don’t know and I don’t want to be too hard on the woman because nothing is black and white, good and bad but this went wrong. She’s is possibly a good woman trying to do good in a difficult environment.

      However, I don’t believe a person can run a cat rescue with 41 cats, from home, illegally. It is too tricky and too difficult to do that.

      • Thanks Michael, we can’t believe we fixed my computer problem by vacuuming the tower out, but so far so good…..
        Back to the topic….that’s something else, people who choose to rescue animals should be in a position to pay for their food and care without always badgering other people to give them money and saying that they can’t manage without help.
        Yes it’s OK for a genuine charity to ask for donations and have a paypal button but a person keeping a lot of cats in poor conditions in their house shouldn’t really expect others to give them money when it was their own choice to take in so many cats.
        We’d love to have more cats around but we know our limits and would never want to beg for money to feed our cats or to pay their vet bills.

  8. From the way the story is reported it seems that this woman has added and added to the cats in the basement and things have got right out of hand and she hasn’t been able to cope, surely it takes time to get into such a state so it doesn’t sound like a temporary problem and I hate to hear about multiple cats kept in filth and closed away from human company, if you’re going to have such a huge number of cats you need to be on top of cleaning up litter trays and anything that hits the floor too, plus about the health of the cats, fine if they really were all well but not so good living in such a crowd if there were infections being spread. The part about the cat with it’s head stuck is worrying, was it really stuck or at the time of the raid was it busy investigating behind the fridge or even chasing a spider! On the other hand there’s a nosey neighbour who seemed only too willing to talk to the camera, and then there’s Dee’s comment that she might have taken back two rehomed cats when she found out the new owner was planning to declaw them. So is she the classic cat hoarder who collects and stashes away cat after cat without any thought that she is doing more harm than good, or is it a case of someone trying to get her into trouble, sour grapes over the declawing issue. I hope we can follow up on this and get to know the truth, Dee if you learn any more please share it with us. Either way she’s bitten off a lot more than she can chew in my opinion, it’s easy to call yourself a saviour of animals but saving them is only the beginning, the keeping of them and feeding of them is equally important, saving them from one set of miseries to keep them in another is not rescue, it’s just hell of a different kind.

    • Thanks, Babz, you are always so objective.
      I’m going to do my best to keep on top of this.
      If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. I’ll admit.
      But, my gut is screaming that something is wrong.

  9. It’s easy to get carried away with animal rescue and bite off more than you can chew I stopped taking dogs in when people blackmailed me into it saying they’d have to get rid,they got a piece of my mind instead.
    I only have a few cats now and know my limits and anyone asking me to take more in gets a lecture on responsibility instead that you can’t just dump animals on someone else when it suits you.
    I feel sorry for those cats shut in that basement in poor conditions but I hope they haven’t got PTS now they don’t deserve that.

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