It's been a busy weekend. Yesterday, Saturday, Amy and I took in 20 cats to the PAWS-Chicago Spay / Neuter Clinic to be fixed. One was a 'friendly feral' while the other 19 were true ferals. While Amy & I were waiting to have our cats checked in, we met another TNR person, Ellen, who was taking feral cats from Bridgeport to be spay/neutered. She was feeling overwhelmed; the cats kept coming, and she was doing all this work by herself and paying for everything out of her own pocket (and, as she is a college student at the University of Chicago, money is very tight for her). During our conversation, Yvette came in with a couple of more ferals ('St. Francis' and 'St. Jude', two more 'Convent kitties') and was able to, I think, link her up with someone else handling ferals in Bridgeport. And, during THAT conversation, Rochelle Michalek, the Executive Director of the PAWS clinic, came out to the lobby to visit. I introduced her to Ellen and in short order Rochelle was able to help Ellen place some of the friendly cats she has found (through the new PAWS program that handles these types of adoptions) and was also able to give Ellen some vouchers for future Feral Cats in exchange for some promised volunteer work.
This is yet another example of how we can all help each other. Ellen was in danger of being a victim of 'volunteer burn-out', a condition that happens when someone tries to do much and/or has no support and its a condition that I've seen all too often. Thank you Yvette for hooking her up with someone in her neighborhood and thank you, Rochelle, again, for being there for the TNR people. And, speaking of help, it was wonderful to have Amy with me today. I drive a lot of cats to/from PAWS and normally have no problem dealing with all of the issues myself. But when you have 20 cats or more (as we did today), the help is immensely appreciated. Thank you Amy!
We did have one downer today - one of our feral cats died during surgery. This is a very rare occurrence - I think only the second time I've seen it with any of our cats. Of course everyone was upset, including the PAWS personnel, but it comes with the territory. As safe as modern medicines are, and as good as modern veterinary techniques are today, sometimes bad things still happen...
Today, Amy brought in 11 cats to the PAWS clinic. She did the transport in and dropoff by herself and, in addition, picked up the cats this evening from PAWS, again by herself - what a trooper! She's only been working with us for a couple of weeks and is already becoming a seasoned transport person. And that's only the half of it. She and her husband David live in an apartment complex in Villa Park, a place that has a long history of feral cats. Attempts have been made in the past to 'solve the problem' by trapping and removing the cats. Of course that doesn't work and the feral cat population there today is proof of that. Amy and David are now trapping cats there and getting them fixed and we are going to do everything we can to help them get the feral cat issues there under control, once and for all. Of the 11 cats Amy brought to PAWS today, I believe that 7 of them were from their apartment complex. Thanks Amy and David and thanks to all of our other volunteers who help make this all possible.
With these 31 cats, Feral Fixers has now done 69 cats in March (and the month is only half over!), 113 for the year and 726 since we've started work.
(The picture thumbnail is of the 19 cats we brought home from PAWS on Saturday - if you click on the thumbnail, you will see a larger version of the picture)