Transparency by cat rescues: “Where did the cat go after leaving the shelter?”

This is a discussion article on cat rescues and how transparency in what cat a pledge was used on is very important in the long run.  Not only does it weed out the bad rescues out there, it also gives reassurance to those who gave money to see the happy ending everyone hopes for in the world of cat advocacy.

It’s important because a lot of people are leaving Facebook due to the drama. Others are unfriending everyone on their list who are involved in animal rescue due to the deception, lies, and name-calling. The drama is causing pledgers to doubt the pledging system as well as what has in the past been known as a “good cat rescue.”

Not only does the doubt affect the rescue, cats are being killed for space because there’s money involved to ready a cat for its forever home. In a perfect world, rescues would have enough money set aside to not depend on pledges. In the real world, veterinarians now charge almost as much (if not more) than human doctors.

When an individual sees the photo of a shelter cat and decides to pledge on that cat, the individual expects the money to be used on the cat to ensure it gets proper vetting (including time to recover from spaying) before going to a forever home. Cat rescues earn a good reputation not only by saying what they do but also in doing what they say.

Many shelters now offer community TNR programs and work with local rescues who may or may not work with feral cat caregivers. The cat is trapped and brought into the shelter and spayed/neutered then released where it was originally trapped after a proper recovery period. Females are best kept several days (especially if rain or snow is predicted because moisture can weaken the glue used to close a spay incision) before being returned. Males can be released sooner. Depending on temperament, the males in my colony spent one or two nights in a covered trap in my bedroom recovering.

A proper evaluation is also important, whether it be for shelter cats or cats from a feral colony, to determine whether the cat could successfully acclimate to a forever indoor home. There are some feral cats who would never enjoy being an indoor kitty or living in a home with access to a safe outdoor life (either a fence or a catio) and will need to be spayed or neutered at a good size and age, allowed to heal then released back into their colony.

Others labeled as ‘feral’ are cats who were abandoned by their family. Many cats quickly return to their sweet selves after ‘decompressing’ in a spare bathroom or bedroom.

Animal shelters should care what happens to the cats saved by a rescue. Rescues should care what happens to the cat once kind people pledge to their organization to save a particular cat. Rescues should also care about their pledgers and be transparent both before and after the pull to make sure they are doing what’s best for the cat.

Without the love and dedication of a lot of good people by rescues and those who follow the cats, shelter cats don’t stand a chance at getting out alive. All we’re asking for is a ‘paper trail’ on each cat saved and that the best decision possible is made for that cat.

What do you, as a cat advocate, think the proper procedure should be as far as transparency is concerned? Please comment below on any part of this article.

More on Champ can be found here.

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Comments

Transparency by cat rescues: “Where did the cat go after leaving the shelter?” — 14 Comments

  1. I applaud you for sounding the warning — I’m sure it applies generally though it seems especially relevant in NC-SC areas right now. I am getting a real increase in pleas for legal help from rescuers who have gotten in trouble in different ways with AC, Dep’t of Agriculture, Sec’y. of State’s Office, etc. There must be some bad rescues but I prefer to think that most of these problems result from not running the rescue like a business, unappealing as that idea is. When one is fueled by passion, taming that energy into mundane activities like good record keeping can take second place. By definition a key feature of a profession is that it is self-regulating — if the rescue movement doesn’t figure out how to do that, the government is going to step in more and more.

    • Very true! Our special needs especially. They take extra love, extra effort, extra time. And I say repeatedly “Facebook” is my last priority but I do catch myself having to catch up paperwork occasionally when “higher priority” things are going on. I keep more records than is even required in SC but falling behind still means falling behind on that….

    • Marianna, I’m at the point where I can’t help ANY rescues anymore with an article. You have no idea how many messages I get asking me to “expose” a bad rescue and when I refuse without proof I’m put in the category WITH the abusers. People don’t understand I need PROOF. Either a trusted media link (NOT a personal blog with someone who has a quarrel with the rescue) or a police blotter report.

      There’s a big difference between someone who comes on here and comments against a rescue than there is with my writing against a rescue. I could be sued for libel without proof and he said/she said is not proof.

      Unfortunately, this puts cats in danger. I’ve had to wait out some rescues being raided. There was one on the coast of SC I had to wait 6 months for it to be shut down despite rumors. I think that was around 2011 or 2012.

  2. Volunteer – a person who voluntarily offers himself or herself for a service or undertaking. A person who performs a service willingly and without pay. A person whose actions are not founded on any legal obligation so to act.

    I don’t know about other shelters and how they operate. However, the shelter Jan and I “volunteer” to assist with saving the cats has an application process that requires references and vet references. Once that rescue is approved, we trust the rescues operate with integrity. With the hours it takes volunteers in posting, emailing for the pledges, scheduling with fosters, transporting, and arranging transport, a person is consumed to the degree that it is emotionally and physically exhausting. With the small pool of volunteers, you have to rely on integrity. I think all of us who care with such depth would be much better off financially and emotionally if we walked away from rescue. But, we know we won’t do that because then they will all die. So, bottom line for saving shelter cats is that tax funded shelters refine their screening, weed out those who fail to meet their standards, put trustworthy people in place who maintain their documentation, and continue to save lives. Pledges and sponsors are needed. It is critical. Rescues have to balance the funds and be trusted to act responsibly.Accountability and the paper trail for the animal begins the minute a cat or dog is posted for rescue. However there are not enough volunteers in this country to post every step, and an individual financial report on each and every animal from the time it enters a shelter until it is rescued or dies from unknown causes in rescue. It that be the case, you would have to be able to report all the litter, all the food, all the vaccines, all the flea treatments, all the dentals, and vet care given for the life of an animal. For heaven’s sake, a rescue has to operate.

  3. Mostly I hear about pledges being used on a different cat than the pledger meant to help or the safety of the cat being jeopardized as in feral programs releasing 2 pound kittens the day after being spayed.

    • We are all very upset about that Pediatric TNR of a 2 lb kitten that is wrong on every level, first how about let it go to a rescue be socialized and put up for adoption HELLO. But why and what does it have to do with every rescues transparency. It seems they were right out front with what they were doing with that program and that kitten. But now this is going into all rescues and fundraises have to prove they are honest??

      • It’s been that way awhile now. Instead of rescues having to be shown as bad it’s turned around to where rescues have to show they’re good. There are a lot of scammers out there now. I ran into my first one (an individual not a rescue) with Bart the zombie cat where the person raising funds hosted a shrimp/steak/lobster cookout.

        From the messages I received about Best Friends a lot of people are saying there were rescues ready to take those kittens where they could live an indoor life rather than being put outside with a colony.

        The true scammers are the ones who have created this mess. Now the cats are the ones who pay the ultimate price because cat lovers are afraid to donate and rescues needing help are often afraid to ask for it.

  4. so well said!

    We do high volume annually too and help multiple states AND work closely with my own county’s animal control. But when I am doing hands on care, paperwork, medicines, events for adoptions and events to sell my handmade items to support the sanctuary as my way of fundraising, Facebook just isn’t a priority. I answer many texts and emails requesting info on a cat and I do my best to answer promptly. But it’s just not always possible. I had been doing a group of photos as a chunk every so often to get pics up online but could not this summer with breaking my feet. (Will post one next week though! Yay! I am never “unresponsive” to a request I see and I many times have posted that I am not on Facebook often, nor messenger and give my number to text and my email address but people keep getting mad and screaming I am ignoring them on facebook??? I just shake my head and go play with or treat the next kittty in need….

    • I try my best to stay off of Facebook on my days off. The rescue wars are so bad these days I have seen a lot of cat as well as dog supporters unfriend everyone involved in animal rescue.

      • It’s the same way with me. I picked up trying the networking thing with rescues and locals via Facebook as a way to enhance my direct rescue work. Honestly, while it does some good, I think it’s a lot more energy invested than effect returned due to the drama introduced by the social element.

        It’s gotten so bad lately that I honestly dread opening up a tab for Facebook, just knowing that some piece of human trash out there is going to be causing yet more ripples across a pond which already had enough problems to deal with.

  5. Best Friends Atlanta has responded to my message and will get back to me with an official statement. I plan to turn it into a media release. It may take them a day or two but I’m staying on top of it since they’re doing the same thing Greenville does.

    • As an addendum, the response you got is the exact same response they have given out to everyone since this fiasco began, word-for-word. That they had a prepared statement ready to circulate from multiple representatives leaves me wondering just how many times they have triggered backlash with their actions.

      • I warned Best Friends they could get some nasty comments but they agreed to allow their response be posted in the new article.

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