We post all incoming strays on both our Facebook page and on Nextdoor.com. It’s amazing how helpful these apps have been in getting lost animals returned home. It seems that if posted far and widely enough someone knows someone who recognizes the animal and will tell their parents that their missing dog or cat (or rabbit, or….) is at the shelter. This works too for helping adoption animals get seen by a wide audience, but I digress. This alone should be reason enough to follow us on Facebook, you can help animals just by clicking your mouse!
Even more interesting though are the comments under the posts of these stray animals. When it’s a post for a lost dog we hear things like “he’s so cute, hope he finds his way home,” “She’s adorable, if she’s not reclaimed I would be interested in adopting,” and “Thank you finder for rescuing this dog!” Clearly everyone is in agreement that the dog shouldn’t be left out on his/her own. But boy do things get heated when a stray cat is featured!
One side will say things like what’s written for the dogs, all positive and grateful that we are helping these animals, but the other comments come from people who apparently allow their cats to free-roam. Their comments run the course of “if the animal isn’t obviously hurt, leave him alone! He is probably someone’s pet in the area and doesn’t need ‘rescuing’!” “Why would someone bring in a cat that is just hanging around outside? Go help an animal that actually needs help!” to “Great, you just stole someone’s pet and if they even think to come to the shelter they will have to pay a huge fine to get her back. Way to go neighbor!” Interestingly it doesn’t seem to matter if the animal is fixed, or not, elderly or very young, thin or in good shape; their comments always comes back to just leave the animal alone.
Most Good Samaritans get involved in the first place because they care about animals and they also read all our lost cat posts. Some of these animals might be a neighborhood cat just out for his daily constitutional but given the number of lost cat reports we have, there is an equal chance that this is someone’s missing pet. There is also no way these kind-hearted people are going to walk by a cat that is clearly underweight or in otherwise rough shape. No, they don’t have to be bleeding on the side of the road to tug at their heartstrings; just being severely matted, very thin, or seen for days during a heat spell is enough to galvanize these people into action. Occasionally it is an angry neighbor who is fed up with someone’s cat using their garden as a litterbox, killing the birds they have put seeds out for, spraying on their patio furniture or fighting with their pets in their yard. We need to share the earth people! It doesn’t belong to just your cat, no matter how cute he is! And why would anyone knowingly leave an intact animal loose to breed indiscriminately? That’s just crazy! We get in far too many accidental litters to think that is acceptable. In fact, when we get in kittens we push the finders to actively look for the mom and any intact males in the area because she is sure to get pregnant again and the cycle will just repeat itself.
Bringing a stray cat to the shelter is not the death sentence it once was. We have a 92 percent live-release rate and work closely with Forgotten Felines to provide another option (working cats!) for those cats that come in too feral to be adopted into a home. Getting these stray cats the veterinary care they need, as well as fixed and microchipped before they go back out-the-door, and educating owners about safer options to allow their cats some outdoor exercise time (catios and enclosures, fence-in systems, etc.) while keeping peace in their neighborhood, is what we are all about. We won’t turn away a stray from our jurisdiction but we may have a conversation about him going back there once cleared medically. So thank you to all the Good Samaritans out there – keep doing what you are doing, it is helping a lot of animals!
Tickets are now available for Bark After Dark, a dinner and auction for the animals. The Animal Shelter’s League annual fundraiser will be held on Sat., Nov. 2, 6:30-10 p.m. at the RP Community Center. All proceeds go directly to supporting the RP Animal Shelter and the animals in our community. Tickets are going fast – get yours at www.animalshelterleaguerp.org or at the RP Animal Shelter.
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.