Introduction: Below is a comment on this page of the Westberry story (opens new page). I really don’t want to over-egg the story but there are a number of comments amongst many that need highlighting because they may prevent this happening again. Ruth’s comment is supported by a number of other comments which remarked on the culpability of other people who supplied Julianne Westberry with cats.
By Ruth (a visitor to the site) commenting on the Julianne Westberry tragedy
Friends of Harnett Animal Shelter, In light of recent incidents in which numerous deceased cats were found at a local rescue, I am compelled to express my concerns. This statement concerns not only your organization, but the numerous other shelters organizers involved in transporting cats to Julianne Westberry. I realize there are numerous shelter animals with limited options.
The available fosters/rescues and animal advocacy groups are minimal compared to the need. Oftentimes, time is limited and there is an urgency to get animals out of high kill shelters as quickly as possible. As I am sure you realize, the need is ongoing and there is a desperation to save as many lives as possible.
Unfortunately, I believe that this urgency has had tragic results for many homeless animals and my concern is that this does not happen again. There were many red flags that went unheeded.
First of all, JW insisted on meeting in a public location. Transporters did not deliver to the home. When a rescue does not welcome a home visit, people should be very cautious.
Secondly, with the number of cats in shelters in SC, why did this woman obtain cats from NC, TN, and other out of state locations? That is clearly a red flag. SC shelters are overwhelmed with homeless cats. Why are you continuing to send NC cats to rescues in SC? Clearly, their own shelters are full and overflowing.
Let me get to the point, you actively collect money from your supporters to pull and transport pets to various out of state rescues. How many of these rescues have you personally inspected before transporting these animals?
It is one thing to be fooled by unscrupulous rescue organizations, but quite another to ignore obvious red flags. When you collect money from the public to pull and transport these animals, you must be held to a higher standard. People who pledge and support your organization trust that you are taking these animals out of danger to a safe environment, not sending them on to a life of pure torture.
As an animal advocate, I plead with you, you must do better. The safety and health of these loving animals rests in your hands. If you cannot ensure their safety, do not “rescue” them. I hope that in the future you will proceed with caution and investigate before dropping off animals to “rescue organizations”. They should be able to provide vet references as well as be open to showing you where the animals are living until adoption.
Harnett Friends….I plead with you….don’t let this happen again. These precious animals depend on you and me…we cannot let them down.