This is one of those articles where I will likely ramble a bit, as it can’t be helped. The fault that causes cat fosterers to suffer as rescues crumble and go under can be traced back to the shelter systems in the United States. And the problems with the shelter systems stem in large part from cat owners not having their cats spayed and neutered.
The basis for this article comes from a friend of mine in Georgia, who was left with the care of almost two dozen foster cats when the rescue she was helping crumbled several years ago. My friend has a rather large home, so she had room for the cats. Everything was going well until the rescue went under. I’m not going to name names, as I don’t want to initiate a lawsuit, but readers are free to comment, should you know who I’m talking about.
Her Facebook post, one of her last, was in September 2014:
“Okay, time is up.. rescues who promised to help me in the last 4 years and never stepped up. I have every bit of correspondence from those who promised to help me and did nothing.. I did the right thing.. saved, loved and took care of precious kitties that were left with me by an illegitimate rescue.
I’ve exhausted all of my savings.. everything I had to care for all of the cats abandoned with me. I put them before my own needs. Furkids, and others.. what have you given up lately? Are you on EBT? Are you living under poverty level?
All off my files from the last 4 years will be open for observation to the appropriate authorities, including my State Representative. Many of them already know your lack of compassion in my case, but step 2 is now in place. You had 4 years to step up rescues… I know who you are.
–This is for my beloved friend, (name removed for privacy), and all the kitties who deserved more”
She isn’t the only foster who has suffered from this rescue basically abandoning the cats. Another foster, who is friends with the first foster since they were involved with the same collapsed rescue, is now in a nursing home, due to declining health caused by stress over this situation. Since going into a nursing home, the animal advocate community has come together to help. Twelve of those cats remain without permanent homes.
That rescue is making the claim that the women refused to hand the cats over. It has taken a long time to get the ball rolling on a resolution, because when a foster is left with cats that legally belong to a rescue, they’re not allowed to find homes for the cats without the permission of the rescue. So this has turned out to be a very messed-up situation.
Now for the kicker. Both of these fosters reached out to other rescues on the east coast, especially those in Georgia. The rescues promised to help, then reneged on their promise. One of the fosters has contacted the Georgia Department of Agriculture for help.
What I really wonder is whether the rescues who had promised help really intended to help in the first place. I have a lot of friends in rescue, and have seen several post the following statement after their friends asked for help with their own cats.
“Do not ask me for help with your personal cats, or with cats you bring home from work who need homes.”
This is understandable, because rescues are there to save urgent cats in high-kill shelters. It’s a race against time to save these cats before a shelter makes the decision to kill. A cat in the home of a foster, any foster, is technically safer than a cat in the shelter. Even if that foster is about to lose her home, has been placed on government assistance, and is a mental train wreck.
It’s reported that about 25% of rescues are really hoarders in disguise. Whether that is true or not, rescues are mentally stressed as they realize they can’t save them all. It isn’t hard to imagine a rescue taking in more cats than they can comfortable handle, even if they have a good foster system. There never was a slow-down during kitten season this past year in many areas, which only compounded the problem.
I’ve heard a few rescues ask if they must become “hoarders” to keep up with the influx of cats. I’ve also heard of hoarders being caught who may not be legitimate hoarders, meaning they don’t suffer from a mental condition. After the fact, rescues ask why a person with too many cats didn’t reach out for help from them. Perhaps its the above comment from area rescues asking their friends NOT to ask for their help.
As I said before, rescues aren’t there to help out their friends with stray cats. Both of my friends in Georgia learned this the hard way. The only option open to the ladies was to take the cats to a local shelter, where kill rates are just as high as in South Carolina shelters. They chose not to do this, and have suffered physically, mentally and financially.
It would be easy to ask why the fosters chose to keep these cats, even after they were cleared to find them homes on their own. Those homes just aren’t there, and many cat caregivers seem to take a “vow of poverty.” Craigslist is a dangerous joke, and the freebie section of local newspapers are just as dangerous for a cat, as well as an owner who may go to that persons home for a “home check.” A couple in Georgia in this very area was murdered last week while answering a Craigslist ad.
It would also be easy to blame rescues for not stepping in to help. The ultimate blame lies with the cat-owning public, who take litter after litter of kittens to the local shelter, rather than having their cats sterilized. It’s just sad the system is the way it is. Cat rescues are collapsing every day due to the failure to spay or neuter. Some collapse due to financial reasons, others from the stress of trying to save them all, all the while battling medical expenses and the lack of quality fosters.
There are a lot of lessons to be learned here. To not rescue more cats than you have fosters available for. For fosters to only take in as many cats as they can comfortably handle. And to research any rescue to be sure it’s legit. Anyone can call themselves a rescue, but consistency is what backs it up. We also see what happens when the public refuses to “fix” their personal cats.
Unfortunately, in the end, it’s the cat who suffers from man’s failure to protect them in every way possible. Your comments are welcome.