Best Friends Animal Society-Atlanta responds to comments made about the Cobb County Animal Control Community Cat Program

After a situation involving Best Friends Animal Society-Atlanta and cats rescued from Cobb County Animal Control, I reached out via Facebook and was given the following statement by the team leader and manager Carrie Ducote. Nichole Dandrea-Russert, Social Media Community Manager granted permission to post their response to comments made about the Cobb County Community Cat Program on PoC.

photo courtesy of Best Friends Animal Society

“Please know that our first priority is always for the health and welfare of the animals and everything we do at Best Friends whether in the metro area or around the country is to help Save Them All.

The Cobb County Community Cat Program exists to reunite outdoor cats with their neighborhood homes and help more cats at Cobb County Animal Control find live outcomes. Part of this program is to return free-roaming cats, who have found their way to Animal Control to the colonies from which they came.

Although we agree that the best possible outcome would be to find permanent homes or rescue placement for all the friendly cats, sadly there have been more cats at Cobb County Animal Control than rescue placements and adoptive homes for them. Because of this, our program returns cats to their outdoor homes (regardless of a cat’s demeanor). We do this so that the rescues and adopter placements can be reserved for the remaining “indoor-only” cats.

This is considered best practice and recommended by several national animal welfare organizations. There is more information about our return-to-field policies on our website here: https://bestfriends.org/resources/returning-cats.

Best Friends works very closely with the staff a Cobb County Animal Control. When an outdoor cat is brought in or picked up by an Animal Control Officer, the resident is asked to fill out an additional form with pertinent information about the cat and the situation it came from. This information includes the location where the cat was found, information about any additional cats in the area, and if known, who has been feeding the cat. Because we have been operating the program in Cobb County for almost two years, we are able to maintain a comprehensive map and database of caregivers and colonies.

The decision to return a cat to a colony is not black or white. We use the information on the intake form, combined with our experience in a neighborhood, other outreach efforts, and current cat population at Cobb County Animal Control to determine the best outcome for each cat. A cat who has not lived outdoors or who is not healthy enough to continue to live outdoors would not be returned to a colony. You can read more about this decision making process on a blog written by our Chief National Programs Officer here: http://blog.millioncatchallenge.org/making-the-decision-on-whether-or-not-to-return-a-cat-to-field/.

As for the pledges, they are entirely managed by the Cobb County Kitties Facebook page. Best Friends does not make decisions about which cats to pull for either indoor placement or return return-to-field based on the pledge money (as you can see from our policy linked above). Many individuals who pledged money for cats who were returned to their colonies made the decision to redistribute their pledge money—a decision, by the way, that we support.

Most of the cats we return to the field are feral and do not get listed on the Cobb Kitties page. We are working with the administrators of the Cobb County Kitties Facebook page to ensure that any future pledge dollars for cats who are returned to their colonies are redistributed to other cats in need.

Thank you again for the opportunity to address the community’s concerns. I am happy to answer any further questions you may have.

The mission of Best Friends Animal Society-Atlanta as stated on their Facebook page is to bring about a time when there are No More Homeless Pets. We do this by helping end the killing in America’s animal shelters through building community programs and partnerships all across the nation. We believe that by working together we can Save Them All.”

I’m not exactly sure what took place that created a backlash on social media. I’ll leave the comment section open for those who know more to post.

Thank you, Best Friends, for your prompt response to give an official statement.

Elisa

Facebook Discussion

Comments

Best Friends Animal Society-Atlanta responds to comments made about the Cobb County Animal Control Community Cat Program — 14 Comments

  1. She’s full of it!!
    Even when I told her the cats they released had a rescue who would take..they went ahead and released anyway!
    She’s in denial and released them 1 day after SURGERY 🙁
    THEY SHOULD BE ASHAMED!!

  2. They release friendly adoptable cats and doom them to an unsafe outdoor life..
    I’d like to see Carrie and the whole bunch fired!!

  3. Their sad and pathetic form response only makes sense if they were actually saving lives with their actions. Cobb County was not (and is currently not) in a position where they are being forced to kill for space. Those cats would have been fine right where they were at and they were all friendly enough that they had excellent chances of finding loving families to adopt them if they had just been left alone.

    Instead, Best Friends rushed to obtain the cats despite the fact that there were seniors and kittens too small for the adoption floor amongst their number. Not only that but they were straight-up notified that another rescue would be willing to take the cats and rehome them. Did that matter to Best Friends? Not in the slightest. If anything, they moved faster than normal once they became aware of another rescue having an interest and at least one cat was released to the wild not even a full day after surgery.

    Their own representative told me via Facebook messaging that they were aware of the other rescue’s interest prior to release and that they decided to go ahead with their plans regardless. No explanation, no rationale, just stubborn “we know best so deal with it” pride in every response they have thus far offered to this fiasco.

    Best Friends has done a lot of good out here for the unadoptable ferals but they have shown with their own actions that they should keep their hands OFF of friendly and adoptable cats. They have sentenced those friendly cats to death by insisting upon releasing them outside at the onset of winter and they will kill many more in the future if they are permitted to continue this nonsense.

    I have never been so outright disgusted with a rescue group in my entire life, and this is coming from someone who has been forced to work alongside some real scum in places like Texas and New Jersey. Their online reviews also reveal a very arrogant and nasty culture amongst their volunteers at the adoption center so I am assuming that this is far from an isolated incident.

    Have they done this in the past? How many other cats have had their bright futures stolen away from them because of these cruel liars who are for some reason obsessed with making them disappear?

    No matter how you look at it, Best Friends crossed a dangerous line when they decided to begin needlessly forcing friendly and adoptable cats into their community cats program and their continued refusal to justify their actions when none of those cats were at risk of being killed for space only highlights the pure arrogance fueling their decisions.

    Current and potential donors beware: you are dealing with people who can’t even be trusted to protect the lives they are supposedly dedicated to saving. By funding them, you are promoting a group which puts their pride above the safety and well-being of friendly cats just like yours and mine while ensuring that they will never know the joy of having a loving family of their own.

  4. Their words: “A cat who has not lived outdoors or who is not healthy enough to continue to live outdoors would not be returned to a colony.” This is a a lie since they returned an FIV+ cat, more than one kitten who weighed less than 1 pound and an elderly, ailing kitty outdoors. This is especially grievous considering they were informed that a qualified rescue group would take them. They doomed these cats to an awful death, when they could have been placed with a willing rescue group.

  5. I don’t know about this specific situation, but I manage a small feral cat colony near my home by feeding them and providing shelter. Six years my daughter and I were able to do trap-neuter-release. All the cats in the colony were given vaccines and spayed or neutered. Today, all the cats are healthy and doing well. No new cats, no litters of kittens and no deaths. None of them has ever lived in a house but they act like they are house cats, no one believes they are actually feral. I can’t touch them but I can stand very near them and they trust me. I believe that trap-neuter-release is a viable option for many cats. I’ve been a fan of Best Friends for years and continue to support their causes and activities.

    • Because a life exposed to the elements and at risk from all manner of illnesses, animal attacks, and random acts of human cruelty are always going to be superior to a comfortable home with a loving family, right? Just because nothing bad has happened to your colony yet doesn’t mean that it won’t — all it takes is one hungry coyote, bored kid, speeding car, or flash freeze for one of the cats who trusted you to end up dying a painful death.

      I support a feral colony in my own neighborhood and while I love every one of them, I would never, ever wish that life upon any cat. If any of my ferals showed the slightest possibility of being socialized then they would be inside in a heartbeat.

      For ferals, it’s the best life possible due to circumstances we cannot change. For happy lapcats, it’s beyond cruel and any rescue incapable of honoring the distinction between the two is a rescue that is going to end up doing far more harm than good in the long run.

    • These cats had A RESCUE and would have lived inside..so I guess you support releasing a 2 LB KITTEN 1 day after spay neut?
      THESE WERE NOT FERAL CATS!
      PLZ read before you comment on how great they are

  6. I have indoor cats, some rescued from feral parents, I have on rare occasion , tamed an adult and can get very close to some ferals. Yes, feral and outdoor cats have a much higher death rate than inside cats. I trap & neuter, feed , Best as I can, Odessa Texas would just as soon let them starve to death or be killed. I have had feral cats neutered & released no younger than 6 months more or less . It’s hard to tell. I am not there and am hearing conflicting stories. And yes, if u pledge on an animal that is to go to a rescue, I honor that pledge. I’ve never run into a rescue that released. Best friends did go to Houston & helped out. Better than many Texas rescues. Texas & the south have a certain bad reputation regarding not spaying or neutering & having high kill pounds. So, once again, I’m hearing conflicting stories from good people.

    • That’s probably why there is an extra element of outrage to all of this. Best Friends should know better. Best Friends has DONE better. Before this whole mess, I’d have dropped whatever I was doing to pitch in if Best Friends needed help after all the good they’ve done for the ferals Cobb County would have gladly just murdered.

      This is almost like there’s a whole new person calling the shots who is nothing like the good deeds we’ve come to expect from these people. A shame there hasn’t been any change in leadership to conveniently explain all of this away.

    • Also, what conflicting stories are you hearing? Best Friends themselves will freely and proudly admit that it’s all true — they just don’t care.

    • There are no conflicting stories..I spoke with them by phone..
      They admit to it all and think its fine..to release tame cats to the outdoors and 1 day after surgery

  7. They are making up their own rules and people who actually rescue on a daily basis know the harm in this. They are clueless with outside cats

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