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Tilting at windmills

About a month ago, when several of our favorite cats at the shelter were on thin ice because of overcrowding, I posted to Craigslist appealing to anyone who might be looking to adopt a cat, hoping it might result in even one cat getting a home that might not have otherwise. I don’t know if it did or not, but it did result in my getting the following email the next day:

I’m not trying to be rude but the reason you have such a hard time as well as other shelters is because you charge a lot for the animal. I’ve been there many times and seen a lot of animals i would love to take home but they are expensive. Most people get their pets for cheap or free thats why nobody buys from you. I agree that they need homes but if you care about them getting a home your wouldn’t be trying to get rich off selling them. Sorry but the truth hurts. With the economy the way it is and it getting worse your gonna have to give them away or sell them really cheap or your gonna spend more money putting them to sleep which i think is cruel.

I got really, really pissed off, then decided to wait to reply until I could do so rationally. Cussing someone out who attacks you out of misconceptions they have just slams the door on actually addressing those misconceptions. So I waited. A month passed. This morning I sent the person this response:

I let this email sit for nearly a month because I didn’t want to reply in anger. I don’t know if it will do any good to reply at all, since you seem to have your mind made up based on some misconceptions you have, but just in case I am wrong about that, here goes…

First off, I don’t work for the shelter. I am a volunteer there and do not represent the shelter. I occasionally post to Craigslist trying to help animals that just aren’t finding homes, as I did in this case.

I agree that economic times are hard but the shelters certainly are not trying to “get rich” with adoption fees. Actually, at least in the case of Henderson County, none of the money actually goes to the shelter. Take for instance the highest adoption fee, for a female dog that was previously unspayed with no known vaccination history; the fee is $90:

* $50 is paid to the Humane Alliance (and if you think THEY are profiting from this, try calling around for vet quotes on what it really costs to spay a dog)
* $8 is for the 1 year rabies vaccine, required by NC law
* $10 is for the microchip to identify the dog if she ever is lost
* $12 is for the other vaccinations given at the shelter, a combo vaccine with distemper, parvo, etc. and a bordetella shot. Any other treatments or dewormings the dog may have had while at the shelter are not charged for.
* $10 – This is the actual adoption fee. The money goes to a county administrative fund, not to the shelter itself. And any donations that come in go to the county low income spay/neuter program. THERE IS NO ‘PROFIT’

With puppies and kittens too young to be spayed or neutered, there’s a $100 deposit, which is promptly refunded as soon as proof of surgery is given. This was necessary because some people were not getting the animals fixed otherwise.

You might not have been aware of this, but if some of the above things have already been done, the adoption fee goes down accordingly. Several times recently, someone adopted a dog or a cat but then surrendered them back to the shelter for some reason. These animals can be adopted for as little as $10 depending on if the vaccines are still current, etc. Other times, a volunteer has sponsored the animal they’ve become personally attached to by contributing towards their adoption fee or paying for their surgery. I’ve done this myself a few times. If you ask at the shelter, the staff can tell you what animals have lower fees…

The ‘free’ dog someone gets from the local paper or wherever is often going to cost way more than $90 if they are responsible and have them neutered and properly vaccinated – and if someone doesn’t do these things, shame on them – they are part of the problem. If someone can’t afford an adoption fee, how do they plan to pay for it if the animal gets sick, or has some other emergency? Yeah, that sounds harsh, but if someone can’t afford basic veterinary care they shouldn’t have pets. I am saying this as someone who is still in debt, paying off thousands of dollars of vet bills ran up on credit cards several years back when several animals all had health emergencies at once, so I do understand how hard it can be.

The shelter is understaffed, overworked, and it’s an unimaginably difficult job, both emotionally and physically. It would break me, and I have nothing but respect for those who stick it out, and have the courage to do what most of us don’t, because they love animals and are trying to make things better in this county. You wrote your email thinking you were writing to a shelter employee, which as it turns out, you weren’t. Please have some compassion and *think* before you write next time — imagine spending nine or ten hours busting your butt cleaning cages, taking care of animals, dealing with people dropping off animal after animal (some for legitimate reasons, some not so legitimate) dealing with the abused and abandoned ones the officers bring in, and at the end of some days, and having to put dozens of them down because the shelter is full… then coming home to have some stranger who doesn’t have all the facts crap all you them in an email. That is what I think is cruel.

I probably just wasted an hour I could have spent at the shelter with the animals, which is where I am headed now. But maybe she really never thought about where those fees really go? Or maybe other people who think the same way will read this and learn from it?

End of July

A few updated garden pictures as one hot summer month comes to an end…

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The tomato forest – if you look out the bedroom window now, all you see is tomato plant… and the one to the right is working it’s way toward the gutter above now.

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Mishmash of tomatoes, peppers, elephant ear plant, pumpkins, okra and squash. Next time we’ll space things out a bit more, it’s almost impossible to walk through here now.

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One of the roses rallied for a second wave of blooms. It came from florida, so maybe it’s used to this much heat?

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The feral melon patch. There are now a few plants that look like tomatoes coming up as well. Why can’t things grow this easily when I try planting them on purpose?

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Okra bloom

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The other side of the porch is also threatening to become engulfed in tomato vine as well.

What the heck are we supposed to do with this?

The day has finally come… big Bertha was ready to pick. Not sure what to do with her, but we had some fun doing comparative size studies…

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Human head vs. mutant tomato

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Mutant tomato menacing Paddy

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The one on the left is actually smarter.

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Simon meets Bertha

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Bertha and one of her siblings

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Bertha and one of the pink tomato cubes. I’ll bet it’s afraid for its life.

What we replaced the carpet over the plywood with…

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So we’ve got our living room back together more or less… still have a lot of molding to put up, some cracks to fill, and the project of the two patches where the walls were removed, but the plywood in the addition part of the living room is now covered with vinyl planks we spent all day putting in. They look real good, are durable, and were cheap. A good solution for the time being.

The filthy carpet has left the building

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Yeah, we said we were going to leave the carpet that was over the plywood till we figured out what our plans were but that was also the nastiest part…

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…as you can see.

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A lot of moisture issues in front of the fireplace. We aren’t sure if it is all due to Lindsy sleeping there, or if there’s been a leakage issue (other than leaking dog).

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Finally the cooties have been purged, and the area repeatedly treated. Of course, now we have a plywood living room… for now.