I think I’m going to continue sharing our stories with you guys, you seem to like them and it helps you get the big picture about what we do! And I’m never going to run out of stories!
Got a call today from a lady, she’s 86 years old, retired 26 years ago from AT&T, didn’t expect to live this long, she says! She has a barn and two horses and she’s doing okay taking care of everything still but she went and fed these two cats. Now, there’s 12 adults and 8 kittens. Could we help? She feels really bad, but just can’t stretch her finances further than donating $100 to offset our costs. She thinks the kittens are 9 weeks old. I’m torn between wanting them to be 7 weeks or less or more than 10 weeks old. 7 weeks or less are usually easily tamed (although there is nowhere to put them) and 10+ weeks can be put back, hard as it is to see the little guys out there. The upside of this, even tho she is outside of DuPage County, we have a wonderful volunteer out there on the edge of our service area that may be able to help somewhat. You do the math tho, if all 20 are done as ferals, that’s $700 to us. If the kittens are sent thru as friendlies, that’s $20 more each, bringing the total to $860. A long way from $100 but we cannot let this situation explode into 40+ in the Spring. I’m hoping we can get out there this coming week, cross your fingers for us!
Got a call from a girl on Wednesday = we go to PAWS on Thursday, you know. She had put off calling us in order to save up money to get a few of the cats done. In the meantime, the total had grown to 14 cats or so. Clearly, it does no good to wait, the problem will always grow beyond the resources! Imagine her relief when I told her that since she lived in Addison, we get reimbursed for the s/n! I told her that we would get to her as soon as possible. I Mapquested her and realized that one of our indispensible trappers takes care of a colony within two miles of her. Called her up, she went over there after work and brought four cats in that evening for surgery the next day!
This is all made possible because we have willing volunteers who rearrange their lives in order to reduce the numbers of feral cats. It is made possible by our donors who create that cushion of money that enables us to front the costs in Addison to be reimbursed later, to be able to neuter all 20 cats and kittens that have suddenly erupted from one location. It is made possible by each person who friends us, forwards and shares our info, participates in our events.
I recently attended the Illinois Animal Welfare Federation Prairie States Conference in Bloomington. Attended by employees and volunteers of animal controls and shelters for the most part, I seemed to be the only attendee from a TNR focused organization there. I felt I was spreading the gospel at times in talking to different people. Most were receptive but I was amazed at the number who did not think it was important to microchip ferals – even representatives of national organizations were clearly befuddled that we were “wasting” our money. I’m reminded of the starfish story, you can’t toss all the stranded starfish back into the sea, but its very important for the ones that you are able to do so for – and so it is for all of the cats that we have microchipped and had their lives changed as a result and we are lucky enough to know their stories!
On the whole, these were friendly, receptive people who attended and hosted the event. Remember, these are “animal” people, they don’t normally relate well to humans! But, I think that conferences like this break down the barriers and fears that our overwork and isolation produce in animal rescue.
I was able to talk to a few vendors and have promised to share some of our experiences with their products with them. I enjoyed talking to the Tomahawk trap representatives!
One of the seminars that I attended was dedicated to increasing donations, maintaining communication with donors. You know there are some organizations that have full-time, paid employees that all they do is solicit, groom, schmooze donors? They go to lunch with prospective donors or at the very least, meet them for coffee. I walked out of there feeling that I had let you guys down – you know I have every INTENTION of keeping up with thank you cards & letters, right? I just can’t seem to keep up with that when there are still cats to neuter, kittens to tame, and all the wide and varied duties that are part of doing TNR that no one ever sees.
One entertaining seminar was devoted just to ticks and the illnesses they spread. Itched the whole time. The life of a tick is much more complicated than I had any idea!
Our shelter partners have done their best to take kittens from us this year but now they are maxed out for the most part and we have dozens and dozens of kittens on hand. This is over and above the friendly adults that have come our way. We will be participating in a few adoption events in the next two months, please stop by and say hello and let your friends and family know our schedule. And of course, when you stop at a shelter – ask to see the cats that came from Feral Fixers!
Every call we get these days involves moms & kittens. In March and April and even May, we can be pretty certain the kittens are going to be young enough to tame easily, but now we are getting into those kittens that are older, if they haven’t interacted with humans already, they will need to go back where they came from – we cannot afford the months of taming that they will require to be adoptable. This is why people should not wait until they see the kittens come up to the food bowl and then try to find an answer – it can be too late. There are a limited number of adoptive homes and fewer foster homes than that. Please help us get ahead of the kittens! The next rush is due in just a few short weeks – they are out there mating now! Don’t delay! Spay today!
And finally, the story of the Starfish...
A young man is walking along the ocean and sees a beach on which thousands and thousands of starfish have washed ashore. Further along he sees an old man, walking slowly and stooping often, picking up one starfish after another and tossing each one gently into the ocean.
“Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?,” he asks.
“Because the sun is up and the tide is going out and if I don’t throw them further in they will die.”
“But, old man, don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it! You can’t possibly save them all, you can’t even save one-tenth of them. In fact, even if you work all day, your efforts won’t make any difference at all.”
The old man listened calmly and then bent down to pick up another starfish and threw it into the sea. “It made a difference to that one.”