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Humane Society should not pass judgment on rescues

August 02, 2003|by Ruth E. Rowe

To the editor:

This is in response to Rochelle Howell's letter to the editor about the Humane Society on Sunday, July 13.

First of all, what is her position at the Humane Society, and how long has she worked there? Secondly, nobody has said that the Humane Society has an easy job. However, the employees are paid and the organization is funded in large part by county (taxpayers') funds ($500,000 plus, we were told, and a separate amount for spay/neuter).

The rescue groups that the Humane Society is so quick to judge and criticize are mostly volunteer organizations that do not receive county funding. We are providing the same services as the Humane Society, in many cases, and are in essence doing the same "jobs" for free, because we care. That is not to say that you don't care. I'm sure that most Humane Society employees do truly care about the animals.

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I would like to clarify a few things about rescues. Many rescues are not breed-specific and do not generally have purebred animals. Howell said "we do not have purebred animals that the majority of the public wants to adopt." This is not the case at all. Of the 100-plus phone calls and/or e-mails my organization receives in the average week, 99.9 of them are not looking for purebred animals.

You don't have to tell the rescues about the unspayed cats that have litter after litter, about the people moving who can't or won't take them along, the now-grown kittens and puppies that were given as gifts and are no longer wanted, the untrained, abused, and/or neglected animals, or the stray and feral cats.

That's why we (rescue groups) are almost always full, as you are. I understand the pressure that you are under as an employee of an agency that considers the killing of unwanted animals "humane," I'm not sure you understand the pressure that no-kill rescues are under. We get calls from people who threaten to take the animals to the Humane Society adding "and you know they'll be killed," if we cannot accommodate them immediately.

We offer advice and all the help we can. We're often made to feel guilty or somehow responsible for the problems others created. We are not paid to feel this guilt and sorrow or shed our tears.

Howell stated, "we only use rescue groups that are on the same page as ourselves ... if you are not doing verifications on potential adopters, we will not use you ... we will not use those of you who use money as a criteria for adoptions ..." What a disservice you are doing to yourselves and the animals by not creating working relationships and utilizing the rescue groups that are out there attacking the overpopulation problem and fighting for animal rights.

How do you know if "we" are doing verifications and what do you mean you will not "use" us? There are a number of responsible rescues that work cooperatively with each other. The exact policies and procedures of each group varies but the basic principles are the same. All of us care about the animals and do our best not only to save their lives, but to better them.

Who is the Humane Society to pass judgment and decide whether other organizations are worthy of their association? Not once has anyone from the society ever contacted me or any of my volunteers and asked questions about the things they supposedly heard about us before they judge us. While we have had our own unpleasurable experiences and run-ins with the HS, we do not consider all we hear as true and pass judgment. We often commend the HS and in most cases respect their work. We have tried for years to form a positive relationship with the HS.

My rescue is not only incorporated with 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, but we have educated and dedicated volunteers, very responsible adoption applications and procedures, and we do check references and verify information. Our volunteers do this in a timely, effective manner. While our adoptions are done on a case-by-case basis, there are certain rules and guidelines that are uniform and mandatory.

As to using money as criteria, some of the best homes an animal could find are with families that may not be able to make a substantial donation. However, they will and do provide the necessary care and medical attention to the animals. For example, I adopted out a kitten to a couple that gave a small donation.

They knew this was a special- needs kitty and that it would possibly require extra attention and vet care. The kitten ended up having multiple birth defects that were later diagnosed. The couple have provided top of the line vet care and the kitten is treated as their baby. I find it interesting that while Howell and I agree on the importance of spay/neuter and the animal overpopulation crisis, the HS does not seem to be actively doing anything about it.

Our small rescue offers a discount spay/neuter program for any rescued animal. We have helped hundreds of animals get spayed or neutered over the last few years. Furthermore, each and every animal we adopt out is tested, examined by a vet, vaccinated, treated for fleas, worms, and ear mites if necessary, and spayed/neutered.

HS has the means and the facility to implement an aggressive spay/neuter program but has yet to do it. Instead they choose to waste their time criticizing those of us who pay thousands out of our pockets for spay/neuter and animal care. In addition to that, the HS has stopped people from utilizing the once effective spay/neuter voucher program.

Ruth E. Rowe

KitCat & Critter Rescue, Inc.

Boonsboro

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