Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Happy Cats at MadCat - new hope in '08

frankly i've been a little depressed since my last post for reasons stated therein. i won't rehash that now, but there is no question the road to a No Kill Madison will not always be smooth and easy.

luckily, there is exciting news on the cat front. our main focus right now are the cats being brought to DCHS and their likely outcomes. that being said, we are looking for programs that directly support these endangered felines with focused lifesaving programs. we are talking about direct-diversion from our local kill-shelter.

there are a number of "alt" cat-rescues that operate in the Dane County area, but none with this direct focus. they are not receiving the majority (if any) of their cats from the primary (and only) kill-facility in Dane County. the outcomes are now understood by everyone. (more below)

there is a new member of the Dane County rescue community and it's called HappyCat. they are addressing the problem i describe. this will be a facility-free foster-and-placement network designed to divert cats from DCHS and place them in foster-care until loving (and suitable) homes can be found. nobody dies - hence the happy part. facility-free is a key-ingredient for stretching lifesaving dollars.

the plan sounds great - now how about the people? no plan succeeds without capable leadership and this will be no exception. the ladies behind this are Tonja and Sherry - hardcore veterans of the Dane County rescue circuit. they came to us for consultation and to negotiate for resources. we were deighted. we already have the first adoption-fair scheduled for this Sunday at MadCat-West (noon-to-3pm). join them there to learn more (no website yet).

ok, so what about resources? the biggest hurdle for any cat rescue is veterinary care - coverage, if you will. Sherry and Tonja have wisely partnered with Dr. Laurie Peek of Maddie's Fund and DCHS for full medical coverage of every cat in their program. think about that. just thank the powers that be. what about the rest (food, litter, etc.)? HappyCats at MadCat is a joint-venture and with the generous support of Madison's cat-lovers, we expect that the needs of our feline friends will be exceeded.

so we have a new plan with resource-support, and leadership to back it up. i have one warning. this group is essentially an extension of DCHS and the cats in the program are technically still in their custody (hence the medical coverage). could this backfire in some strange way when priorities are at stake and well-meaning folks disagree? could this be some strange horrible Trojan Horse of cat death? why would we give DCHS one more chance?

i don't know. i honestly don't have all the answers when it comes to this No Kill journey we are on. but i know we have to keep trying new things and learning from our mistakes. i think that's what we are all trying to do here. maybe it will work...

update: things went well at the first event. congrats to the HappyCat team!


Forward said...

I started watching this blog after all the uproar surrounding Kratz's article. I had a long e-mail conversation with her about the article and I've learned a lot about DCHS's policies afterward from this blog and other sources. My main objection to her article was that she was not telling the whole story. The Isthmus may not have provided her with enough space or time to document everything surrounding the situation, but I still found irresponsible to publish something that left out many important facts that Kratz had at hand.

Anyway, I am fairly encouraged to see the HappyCat post describing a system where cats admitted to DCHS might be given a chance in a foster setting outside of the shelter. Sounds like a good plan. From this post it seems like DCHS is quite willing to participate and place more cats in homes.

But if you scroll down a little ways you see a cartoon image of a gun to a cat's head with DCHS written on the arm. Is this portrayal congruent with a post a few months later indicating that the poster is interested in cooperating with the hand holding the gun?

The road to No Kill is indeed VERY hard. Much harder than portrayed by the Isthmus article. But we are on the right road if FOF or anyone else is willing to help by fostering and placing cats outside the DCHS building.

When there is nowhere else to go, DCHS takes in the homeless cats of the county. Not because they want them, but because they are the last resort. They may have some policies that need to be revisited, but they are not evil.

The difficulties in providing care at MadCat illustrate the difficulties caused by overpopulation. But it is critical to remember that FOF has some control over the number of cats coming in their door. DCHS does not, there is a constant stream of stray cats brought in by city and county agencies that DCHS is legally bound to admit, whether they have a cage for them or not. This is a critical part of the discussion that seems to be consistently left out.

Dawnie B said...

Amen, forward. We, as a community of pet lovers, need to focus on the CAUSE of why there are so many cats being surrendered, not only the places they end up. When rescue groups fight with rescue groups and shelters, everyone loses; most importantly in this case the cats lose.

I agree that DCHS is not evil. Their staff is comprised of compassionate, thoughtful, animal-loving people. I know this because I volunteer there regularly. I also volunteer for DCFoF because I believe that EVERYONE needs help to solve the problem, and low-cost spay and neuter is a large part of the solution wherever it takes place and from whatever organization.

The bad publicity these fight have generated have resulted in less funds for some groups and shelters, and have not really educated the public about the problem of overpopulation and what they can do to stop it or at least slow it down. That's where we ALL need to focus if we ever want good cats to stop dying.

Greenconsciousness said...

So now it is 09 - how did things work out?