I'm actually loathe to write this diary. The help is not for me - I'm just the broker here. I posted about this issue in a comment to yesterday's pootie diary and it was suggested to me that I should write a separate diary on the subject.
At first I decided I wouldn't actually do that - this is a political blog, we're in an election season, and time and resources could be used better. But I decided that I DID need to write about it and ask for help and that the reason I'm involved is not so very divorced from my politics, my worldview, and the upcoming election.
So if you'll bear with me over the fold, I'll tell the story and you can decide if you deem it worthy.
Slightly less than two years ago, someone I didn't know whom I had never met did me a great kindness. To this day, mere words can't articulate how grateful I am to have been the recipient of this kindness. You can read about it at the link provided if you so choose - I won't rehash the whole story here. But suffice it to say that the reason for the diary I'm about to write comes from a deep sense of needing to continue to pay this forward. So with that, on with the story.
For those that don't know, I do a LOT of rescue. Cat rescue, to be specific. It's not that I don't love dogs or hamsters or ferrets - I do. I just have an enormously rich, nationwide rescue network for cats and I have a great deal of experience in dealing with cats of all ages.
One of the areas where I'm pretty knowledgeable is on the subject of cats with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). It's common for senior cats to develop kidney insufficiency - the kidneys just start to wear out as they get into their feline dotage. Rewind to mid-2007 with me for a moment. At that time, I had zero knowledge of CKD. I had been blissfully spared the need to acquire this knowledge. In October of 2007, however, my beloved Grady (1/1/1990-3/23/2009) was diagnosed with kidney insufficiency. I did what I tend to do when faced with a problem - I want to gather as much information as possible about the problem and find resources to help me deal with them. I'm action-oriented. I don't want to wring my hands - I want to do something. And so, that is how I found the Feline CRF Support Group. I joined the group, posted an introduction of myself and Grady, and asked for help.
And let me tell you - I got help. To make a very long story ridiculously short, a scad of kind people took me by my virtual hand and taught me how to care for Grady. They supported me through the entire 18 months of successful management of his kidney insufficiency, and they consoled me when I did have to finally say goodbye in March of 2009. It was a gift that I'll never be able to truly repay - its meaning to me is too great to ever envision repayment. But, as a result, I've stayed relatively active on this list to help other members, to take them by their virtual hands and help them care for their beloved cats. I try to deposit my pennies of wisdom against an astronomical and unmeasureable debt.
On January 8, I read a message posted to the feline kidney group (group guidelines prevent me from directly copying it here for you to see). The list member (let's call her Jane) lives in the southwestern US. Jane has a cousin (let's call the cousin Sally) who lives in the Prospect Park area of PA. Sally's apartment was broken into, and Sally was violently attacked. Sally is currently in a coma. The apartment is trashed. There are two cats in the apartment - Sally's cats. Sally is not expected to recover to where she can care for herself independently, let alone care for her cats. The manager of Sally's apartment complex is entering daily at Jane's request to feed the cats, ensure they have clean water and clean litter - but the apartment itself is a disaster zone - here are a few pictures, taken on Friday:
Jane paid the building management to hire folks to go in yesterday and do a "safety cleaning" for the sake of the cats (i.e., remove broken glass, etc.).
NOTE: I am going to have to ask everyone to just trust me here. I have spoken with Jane personally. I "know" her from the CKD list for as long as I've been a member (since October 2007). This situation is very real - I know details that I simply won't share here out of respect for Jane's privacy and the fact that she is very close to her cousin Sally and this whole thing is, obviously, extremely upsetting. But the situation itself and what's going on has been checked out and verified.
When I saw Jane's note to the feline kidney list, I contacted her privately to offer some assistance. As I mentioned at the outset, I do a LOT of rescue and have a great rescue network. Essentially, what needed to happen is that these two cats - who are understandably freaked out and 10 years old - needed to be moved into a no-kill rescue and rehomed. They were originally adopted from a local SPCA, but several conversations with that organization revealed that they are NOT no-kill, and that if a cat is deemed "unadoptable", they will be euthanized. Because of the age of the cats, the SPCA said that they very well could be deemed "unadoptable" on that basis. So, returning them to the SPCA is NOT an option.
A few months ago, I worked with a lady local to the DC area to rehome her two senior cats. In an all-too-common story, she was losing her home and moving in with family and was told she couldn't bring the cats with her. I called on the help of a few other resourceful area rescuers and we found a GREAT program - the seniors for seniors program out of the Montgomery County (MD) Animal Welfare League - that took these two senior cats. That was where I wanted Sally's two cats to wind up. The program is wholly no-kill, and it matches senior citizens (which they deem as 60+ years of age) with senior pets that need great homes. The program also uses foster homes to care for the cats until they find their new forever homes. I thought this was critically important for these two cats in particular - I didn't think, after all they'd been through, that they would do well in a cage.
After a few days of wheedling, I've gotten them space.
And so here's the real reason for the diary: There is a placement fee of $300 per cat for these cats. When I first worked with them months ago on the other pair, I was pretty nonplussed with the fee - but after some time and explanation, I fully understand it. Senior animals take longer to acclimate and socialize in foster care. They are much more likely to have issues that require veterinary care. The placement fee is so that the program can take the cats and guarantee their good care until a new, qualified home is found.
So, I need to raise $600 for these cats - I have a Chipin up for that purpose. Jane simply can't afford to front the whole amount - she is having to travel to PA (I will meet her in person when I transport the cats on 1/28/2012), pay Sally's rent and handle the expenses associated with getting Sally's affairs in order. I would normally personally contribute (and I have), but I can't front the full amount this time.
All that is standing between these cats and an excellent outcome given the circumstances is $600. I need help raising that money by 1/21/2012.
I mentioned in the intro that I had originally decided to nix the idea of writing this up in a diary, but that I changed my mind. I'd like to take a few moments and explain why.
I was talking with my mother earlier this morning. She and my father live in Hilton Head SC - they are lifelong liberals. So we were talking about all of the political goings-on down there in SC and I jokingly asked her if she was first in line for the Rick Perry availability last week. :) She complained about the traffic all of these yabbos are generating in her area, and expressed gratitude that she has a DVR so she can fast-forward through all of the increasingly nasty political commercials targeted in the area.
Our conversation turned to the whole "Bain in the Ass" line of attack against Romney. She and I both agree that there's a plethora of political gold to mine from that issue. My take is, however, that Democrats need to net the issue out more. It's much more fundamental than the fact that Romney's Bain came in and took over Ampad (for example) and then dismantled it and put a bunch of people out of work. It's the mentality message that needs to be refined and repeated.
On the one hand, you have the Romneys of this world. They're about taking money and making it into more money, no matter the real, often non-monetary cost. The Romneys of this world don't have any issue at all with the idea that, in the pursuit of a return on an investment, people lose their jobs. The winner/loser aspect of that kind of professional pursuit is chalked up by the Romneys of this world to the "free market" and "capitalism" with no thought for the larger free market success and health and the role that domestic employment and employees play in that world. In my worldview, if the lowest-paid full time worker in this country can make enough to keep decent, safe shelter over their head and provide for other life necessities and save enough to afford their children more options and opportunities and provide a decent retirement for themselves, we ALL do better in the long run. Financially speaking, when people succeed financially at all levels of the income scale, everyone accumulates wealth at a faster rate over the long term.
The Romneys of this world choose the short-term enrichment of the few over the long-term, greater enrichment of everyone.
The Romneys of this world truly do believe that it's up to you to figure out how you're going to make it.
The Romneys of this world see unemployment and a need for help as a weakness.
The Romneys of this world would tell you that all of this goes back to our American penchant to embrace "rugged individualism". They try to distract you and me and everyone with bright shiny objects so that we don't notice that what they are really practicing is the basest form of narcisism imaginable.
In my world, people really do try to help other people. Whether that's cooking them a meal or trying to help them solve a problem or donating some money to them or taking care of their cats when they're in a coma, the people in my world simply don't understand or gravitate towards the attitude that would say "just take the cats to a shelter. Oh well."
Working in rescue is both the most horrifying and rewarding experience at the same time. Seeing people abandon their animals to certain death for no good reason at all heightens the voice of the cynic in my head. But the flipside is, for example, adopting two shy cats to a breast cancer survivor because she knows those two cats became homeless when their human died of breast cancer. The flipside is the countless hours, effort and money people give to rescue a cat from a kill shelter within hours of their death.
At the end of the day, the human spirit rises above the selfishness in my rescue volunteer efforts. And I truly believe that there are more people out there who believe that caring trumps narcisism every time.
So that's it. That's the help I need. If you can, I would be deeply grateful for any donation of any size. If you can't donate - and I truly understand that so many can't - I would appreciate if you would share the Chipin link via Twitter or Facebook so that I can get this done for these cats.
Thank you so much.
UPDATE: Thanks so much guys - We have $265 of the $600 needed! IF I am lucky enough to over-raise on this, I would like permission to keep the money for another effort I have ongoing - it's to spay/neuter/vaccinate cats in the King George Animal Shelter. We've found that if we can get them vetted while they're still at the shelter, they are MUCH more likely to have a no-kill rescue step in and take them.
UPDATE: 1:38pm ET. WOW. OVER GOAL!! Thank you so much!!! QUESTION: Should I change the amount (make it higher, obviously) and then apply any and all funds over the $600 needed to the spay / neuter of the King George Animal Shelter's cats??
UPDATE: 2:41pm ET. Ok. So I DID adjust the chipin to $900. It's important to note - these cats only needed $600 to get them into the rescue program so they are good to go. Anything raised over the $600 (and we're already over it) I will split between Sara R's project and the spay/neuter/medical efforts at BOTH the King George Shelter and the Prince Georges County Shelter. I work with both of their rescue coordinators personally. At King George - we will spay/neuter some cats to get them ready for rescue. At PG, we cover extras like xrays at the vet's (the shelter won't pay for it) or very short term (a few nights) boarding of cats while rescue is arranged. Thanks again!!
UPDATE: 4:32pm ET: Any NC-area Kossacks willing to help with a cat that needs rescue? Email me renarf at comcast dot net if so.