“To shelter stray, abandoned, and surrendered pets and find them loving homes.”
from the Juneau Animal Rescue Mission Statement
It’s satisfying at a deep level to hear birds singing in the early morning and feel you had a small part in their survival. If you ever need bucking up, you can always hold on to that. All wildlife is on your side, most people are on your side, city ordinance in most places is on your side. If anybody, and this includes employees who get paid to take care of stray animals, try to discourage you, be cool. If they try to pull some authority trip on you, relax, they’re blowing smoke.
In post 3 of this series I mentioned that the animal shelter in our town doesn’t want to deal with stray cats.* That’s a primary reason we have thousands of them roaming town and also why people resort to killing them. That assessment was validated at the shelter this week when I brought cat #79 out there.
Caught a bruiser the other night. To minimize time the cat was in the trap, I asked my son to drop it off on his way to a meeting. He was there just before 9:00 a.m. The shelter opens to the public at 9:30 a.m. but there were people inside. In the past they’ve always taken the cats early for me. But not this time. Soooo, in the interest of not leaving the cat in the truck until after the meeting I drove twenty miles to pick up the cat and brought it to the shelter when it opened.
An ‘animal control officer’ I hadn’t met was called downstairs to remove the cat and give me back my trap. By way of greeting the woman says, “What makes you think it’s feral?” Actually, I did think it was feral because it was a mean motor scooter, and when they’re filthy, and growl like a dog, you get that sense, but I didn’t say that. Instead, I told her it didn’t matter if the cat was feral or not. It was a stray in my yard. She told me cats are allowed to roam freely in Juneau. Told her that wasn’t correct. City ordinance is clear that stray animals can’t harm wildlife. It’s fledging season, robins and thrushes are out, this cat is hunting on my property, and I’m not okay with that. Not pleased with the answer, she tells me I might have to come back later for the trap. Asked her why because transferring a cat had never taken more than ten minutes. I could wait. My sense was the woman was afraid of the cat. She took it to the back.
Next her boss walks by, without acknowledging me (people used to be friendly there and say, “Hi”), and goes to the back where the first woman had gone. A couple moments later boss-lady comes out with the cover I use over the cage to keep the cats calm. She hands it to me and quite brusquely says I’ll have to come back later for the trap. I asked why because I’ve been bringing cats out there for years and never had to wait more than ten minutes. Besides we’d tried to drop it off earlier when they wouldn’t take it, and I’d made an extra twenty mile trip. She tells me the cat was agitated and she was not going to risk her staff transferring it then.
Here’s the thing. The woman was visibly trembling. My thought at the moment was that she was afraid of the cat, too. In hindsight, maybe she was mad because I questioned her authority. Maybe she was afraid of men. Maybe she was upset because she’d have to wait for someone who could handle the cat to get back to the shelter so they could do it for her. Maybe all of the above. I dunno.* Thinking there was no merit in pointing out that animals pick up on emotions people project and maybe the cat’s agitation was a reflection of her own, I left. Made another twenty- mile round trip later in the day to get the trap.
This was on April 15. You’re not going to believe it but this very week is ‘Animal Care & Control Appreciation Week’ at Juneau Animal Rescue! Is that a hoot or what? Here’s part of their blub for Appreciation Week:
“…No matter how late in the night it is or how precarious the situation is, JAR’s Animal Control Officers work 24 hours a day without complaint. If you see one of our ACOs this week, please give them a friendly wave in appreciation for all they do to help the animals of Juneau.”
And so, you might say this piece is a friendly wave to the people whose mission is to shelter stray cats whether they like it or not. See you soon.
Part of the woman’s upset could be that lot of shelters today want to be ‘no-kill’ facilities. That’s why they don’t want stray cats brought to them because they can’t take care of them all. Juneau’s shelter tells people to “Leave them be!” “in order to prevent shelter over population.” So, in their own words, the thrust here isn’t about cat overpopulation, it’s about shelter overpopulation. This article below, from PETA, describes gruesome ends of several hundred stray cats around the country. Most of them deliberately killed or wounded in various ways. Cheerleaders for free roaming cats should read it. https://www.peta.org/issues/animal-companion-issues/overpopulation/feral-cats/great-outdoors-cats/
*To be fair, being afraid of a cat is understandable. Cats can be vicious. Including ones the animal shelter is trying to get you to adopt. Here’s the most famous cat shelter adoption video ever featuring ‘Pet of the Week, ‘Pinky’ and the animal control officer who says, “He’s a very loving cat.” “AAAHHHHHOOOWWWW!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VywxLBN-Pos
And 14 minutes of cat attacks, a lot of them stray cats attacking passers-by and people walking their dogs on leash, : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t60i9kPv3xQ