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Born Free USA Blog

Born Free USA Blog

The Cat’s in the Cradle

Published 10/20/08
By Barbara Schmitz, Senior Program Associate

Wow. We’re going a bit kitty-crazy here at the office. And I don’t mean tigers or lions; instead, felis catus (the domesticated house cat) is causing all the stir.

About a month ago, one of my coworkers discovered a trio of gray tabby kittens in a leaf pile on the street. So, she got them safely out of the street and brought them to her office. With lots of nurturing, they’ve transformed from feral, frightened babes to purring loveable little guys who hopefully will find great homes.

Then, about 2 weeks ago, another coworker found a kitten alongside a very busy street. She picked up the cute brown tabby kitten and ... brought him to work. He now sleeps on her lap while she’s typing.

And then there's Katy. I noticed her — how could you miss such a gorgeous Ragdoll cat — near my home a while back, after she was abandoned nearby. What I didn’t know is that she was unspayed (intact) and had a litter of kittens. After catching sight of the kittens very close to a busy alley, a lot filled with cars, and a super-busy street, I realized Katy and her kittens wouldn’t survive long without some human help. So ... as of last week, she and the kittens are in my office.

We’ve had the occasional rescued cat/kitten here before, and each and every one of them found a great home. It’s just that there have never been so many of them at one time. And the sad truth is that this is a sign of the times. When the economy tanks, people begin to abandon their animals in higher numbers.

We’ve seen a dramatic rash of foreclosures here in California, and we’re also seeing a rash of animals dumped on people’s doorsteps or left behind on foreclosed property. Some homeowners are too overwhelmed to seek better alternatives for their animals, even though there are alternatives to abandonment.

Born Free USA had a tiny paw in legislation that will address part of the problem. We are a founding member of the California Animal Association (CAA), a coalition of 13 state and national animal protection groups working together to advocate for animal protection legislation. And this year CAA worked alongside another animal protection group to co-sponsor AB 2949. This newly-signed law makes it clear that people who find abandoned pets on foreclosed property can immediately intervene to help prevent the animals from suffering all alone. The new law provides bank employees with the ability to take the animals and turn them over to shelters, potentially saving their lives. This will prevent banks or mortgage brokers from prohibiting employees from feeding or caring for the animals left behind. At least these animals will get the care they need if they are taken to a shelter.

And, if you know someone in danger of losing his/her home, there are steps to take to protect the animals instead of resorting to abandonment. Urge your friend/relative to:

  • Seek animal-friendly housing. Many rental properties allow tenants to have pets. Start looking as soon as you know foreclosure is imminent to have the best chance of finding a new residence in time.
  • Seek help from animal protection organizations. Contact the humane society or s.p.c.a. in the area where you are moving and ask if they maintain a list of pet-friendly apartments.
  • Turn to friends and family. Ask friends, family, or neighbors if they can provide temporary foster care for your pet, or board your pet at a kennel until you find a pet-friendly home. United Animal Nations provides financial assistance grants to help victims of foreclosure pay for temporary boarding.
  • Surrender the animal to a shelter. As a last resort, bringing an animal to an animal shelter at least ensures that he or she will receive proper food, water, and shelter instead of starving alone in an abandoned house. Provide medical records, behavior information, vaccination information, and anything else that might help shelter personnel find a new home for your pet.

When I found Katy, she was malnourished, very thirsty, and absolutely exhausted. While she was worn out, she had lovingly cared for the kittens, so they are in good shape. Please help to ensure that other animals don’t end up abandoned, starving, and alone.

Blogging off,

Barbara

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