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Written by Reagan Johnson
This post was originally shared with the Florida Association of Animal Welfare Organizations, and posted to their blog on February 18, 2020.
In the animal welfare field, it’s not uncommon to hear people say that they “feel alone” or that “nobody else cares”. It’s a difficult field to work in – heavily passionate - and it’s easy to feel isolated, and like there is always so much more work to be done.
While this is a common sentiment in our field, I’m here to tell you that you are not alone, and while there is certainly always more work to be done, we have a wonderful and large community of like-minded people and organizations to help!
The Humane Society of the Treasure Coast in Palm City, Florida faced a difficult few months near the end of 2019, receiving three back-to-back feline hoarding cases of twenty or more cats each. Over the course of these three cases, we received all types of cats from young to old, healthy to unwell, social to feral, and everything in between – and that’s on top of our regular intake!
We reached out to our local community to help, pushed through adoption promotions and Facebook pleas, even press releases. But ultimately we just had more cats than our community could take on, and way more than was appropriate for our capacity for care.
When we realized we needed more help, Frank Valente, our president and CEO, got to work reaching out beyond our local community, and out into the animal sheltering community.
Enter Karen Slomba of the Animal Welfare League of Charlotte County. When Karen heard that we were in need, she reached out and got right to work coordinating a multi-organization transport of cats from HSTC in Palm City, to partner shelters along the west coast of Florida. She coordinated placement for thirty-one of our cats to be sent to four wonderful partner shelters – Humane Society Naples, Gulf Coast Humane Society, Animal Welfare League of Charlotte County, and Humane Society of Sarasota County.
To say that we were overwhelmed by the coming together of so many people to help us out is an understatement. We were overjoyed by the thought of getting that number of cats placed with such great organizations and to know that so many people were going to help us – just one small shelter -- get back to an appropriate capacity to care for the pets that depend on us.
Less than a week after Karen reached out to help us, on a rainy January morning, we found ourselves loading up our transport van with thirty-one cats (and lots of Feliway!), ready to take the next step on their journey in finding forever homes. I spent the day traveling across the state and up the west coast, delivering our precious kitties to each shelter, one by one. I was able to meet some lovely and dedicated intake and animal care staff along the way, and was fortunate to have the opportunity to tour four amazing facilities.
That same day, Love Me True Rescue, Inc in Ponte Vedra Beach, took in Serena, a long-time resident cat from HSTC whose behavior struggled from being confined in a shelter. Their dedicated staff and specialized accommodations gave Serena a second chance, and she has since already been adopted.
The following week we had an offer from Leon County Humane Society to take in some of our special kitties, when they heard we were in need and they had some extra room available following a hugely successful adoption event. While we weren’t able to make this transport work out this time, we are still incredibly grateful to them for extending their offer.
We absolutely cannot thank all of these spectacular people and organizations enough for the help they have provided us. Not only that, we can’t express how great it feels to see the animal welfare community come together, work together, and save as many cats as possible. We are refreshed and rejuvenated, and we hope that this partnership helps each and every person reading about it to feel that you are not alone, and that you don’t have to do this on your own. It may be cliché, but it truly takes a village, and we have such a powerful village when it comes together!