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Problem Solving, Compassion, and Doing the Right Thing at Cobb Animal Control

Thinking outside the shelter for solutions would have given one deployed soldier hope that his furry friends would be alive, well, and waiting for him to come home.

Policy change would not really be so very difficult to achieve at animal control. Problem solving plus compassion equals doing the right thing for the animals. Two recent incidents, explain the difference in policy and what the right thing to do could mean.

Here’s the first of the two incidents, although it really is the second of the two, but it is happening now and perhaps someone out there can help, so I’m telling it first. A woman came in looking for a cat for her friend to adopt. While there, she happened past a cat whose head was turned towards the back of the cage. She tried to get the cat to respond and when it did, they were the saddest eyes she had ever seen. It touched her heart.  She contacted me to see if I could help her get the cat out. The cat’s name is Cali and she is 8 years old.

I called the shelter and asked the person at the front desk if she could tell me about the cat and why she had been turned in. I gave her the ID number and she began. “Her name is Cali. She’s 8 years old, a shorthaired Tortie, and she came in with a sister named Sissy, also 8 years old, a medium/long haired Tortie. They are both front declawed and they came in on July 20 (six days earlier). Let’s see, she continued, “They were turned in by their owner, a soldier who was being deployed to Afghanistan….Oh,” she said, “it says that he had had a foster home for them but the foster backed out and he had to go.”

I had to ask…”Can you call him and ask if he would want them back if we could find someone to keep them for him?”…She hesitated, took a deep breath and said, ”Let me see what I can do.” Meanwhile, I sent out emails trying to find a rescue that would be willing to take them into their fold. I knew I would need to find a foster for them - fosters are scarce and yet so vital to rescue work. If you’ve ever considered having a pet, and you would like to try it out first, fostering is a wonderful way to help and to learn about having a pet without the long term commitment.

A few minutes later, the woman at the shelter called back. She had to leave a voicemail. Since it had been six days, the odds are good that he has left the country. I don’t know if it’s possible to find him to see if he would want his girls back when he gets home, but I will continue to try and I hope the shelter will also. I don’t have access to his personal information, including his name, but they do.

This worker stepped up and made the right decision. Too bad policy isn’t in place that would have helped this soldier find a foster home, or at the very least, given him the peace of mind that someone was working to try and place them for him. I can only imagine what he must feel...turning over two special cats that he obviously loved to a place that has to put them down when there is no more space.   

As of now, Homeless Pets Foundation rescue is willing to take Cali and Sissy and keep them vetted, and if necessary, adopt them out (if the soldier can’t be found). The only hold up, however, is that Homeless Pets doesn’t have a foster for them, so someone is needed as soon as possible. If you have room in your home and heart for these two, obviously well-loved and well cared for cats of a soldier in Afghanistan, contact me at vhwillow@gmail.com and let’s get you approved as a Homeless Pet’s foster ASAP.  Shelter life is hard on cats.

Hopefully this will end well, but it could have been so different if the woman hadn’t seen the cat, if she hadn’t reached out for help, if the front desk worker hadn’t been willing to step out of policy and make a call…

On one of my weekly photographing days, I came across two new cats…Rusty and Remy. I recognized them as two cats that had been in the shelter last fall. I wrote their numbers down to find out if they really were the same cats, and when I returned home, I emailed my contact to ask.

A short time later I received an email about them, “Yes, they were returned by their owners. The owners had been evicted.” I continued to read: “The woman was very upset that she had to give up her pets.”  Immediately, my brain began to turn. I was standing at Town and Country vet clinic in Marietta, which just happened to be Dr. Good’s office – the same Dr. Good who runs Homeless Pets Foundation. Hmmm, I asked to speak with Dr. Good.  I told him about Rusty and Remy being returned and how upset the couple was that they had to give him up. I asked if Homeless Pets could help this couple, if they wanted help to get these two cats back. He said sure, they could provide medical care for them. The only other thing they needed was a place to stay until the couple got back on their feet.

I contacted the shelter and spoke with the rescue coordinator.  I asked her if she would call the couple and let them know that help is available and see if they wanted the two cats back. I was told, “I don’t think we can do that.” I said, “Would you ask?” Here response wasn’t favorable but she said she would. 

I came in the next day, she hadn’t asked. So I did. Her boss said sure, this is an emergency situation so we can do it. I saw the rescue coordinator the following day and asked her if she had called. No, she hadn’t had time. This was the last day of her work week and no call had been made. By this time, the cats had been there seven days. The following week I passed her in the shelter hallway, she said nothing. So, I asked if she had called. She said she had left a voice mail but had heard nothing back. "Will you call again," I replied. I never heard anything from her.

These two cats went to Homeless Pets Foundation and are now available for adoption. I hope they will be adopted together. Wouldn’t it have been nice, if when the couple came to turn them in, help would have been offered at that time? Perhaps Rusty and Remy would soon be back at home with their family who obviously loved them.

It really isn’t hard if resources are in place and contact info is at hand. And, if workers break out of the old way of thinking and begin to look for solutions that are animal and people friendly.

Problem solving, compassion, and doing the right thing will make the difference of a lifetime. Please sign the petition for changes to be made at the Cobb County Animal Control. It can be better; and the needless deaths of homeless animals in our county can be stopped. http://tinyurl.com/c326llw.   

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Peggy Griffith July 30, 2012 at 04:12 AM
I just wrote a note to let you know that I would LOVE these cats but I don't see it posted here for some reason.....I will be more than happy to give them a furever home if you can help with transportation....My phone number is 262-542-3584....PLEASE call me as soon as possible !!! Thank you so much! Peggy Griffith
Clara Elton sharp July 30, 2012 at 04:39 AM
These are beautiful examples of how shelter workers should be, and this attitude should be required, at least taught. I love homeless pets. Dr good is certainly appropriately named...Michael, the angel; Good speaks of his heart. Bless you for helping the precious ones.
Robbie Huck July 31, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Thanks for sharing the story and thanks for being active in solving the pet overpopulation crisis.
Vicki Hammond July 31, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Cali has been adopted...although that is a good thing, it's sad that the two have been separated and that the chance to find the soldier didn't happen. Turns out all I needed to do was to fill out a form to request public records and I could have had the soldiers info last week. I wasn't told. Guardian Angels for Soldier's Pets was (and is) willing to help but the soldier has to say he wants his (one) cat back and fill out the paperwork. This could and should have been handled so differently....happy that Cali has a home but sad for Sissy, the soldier, and the fact that the family will never be together again...simply because no effort was made to help. Please help make changes happen at CCAC...sign the petition. http://tinyurl.com/c326llw
Vicki Hammond July 31, 2012 at 07:56 PM
another update...it was a different cat named Cali that was adopted on Sunday. This Cali is still there AND I have the soldiers name and his local address. I have left a message and will passing on his info on to Guardian Angels for Soldiers' Pets and they will see if they can find him and ask.

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