Monday, August 16, 2010

Story City Cat Tales

This is not a tale with a happy ending. It is bittersweet, because some animals were saved, but many died that did not have to.

Once upon a time, in Story City Iowa, there was a hoarding situation. Hoarding has become a very "hot" topic these days: Animal Planet has a series called Confessions: Animal Hoarding that explores the world of people who keep animals under unsanitary conditions while believing that they are helping them.

If you watch any of the Animal Cops shows that cycle through on Animal Planet (and I do), then you know that they regularly feature hoarding situations. And, as is all too often the case, many -- heck, most -- of the animals "rescued" from such a situation end up being "humanely euthanized" (don't get me started on the meaning of that oxymoron). Unfortunately, we have come to accept this as the norm. But it's not. There are many people who are rethinking the customary way of deciding what animals to save and what animals to know. And the ones who want to save more than they kill are starting to pull ahead. But not in every case.

The Story City event really seems to have fallen through the cracks. In a big way. Even getting the straight facts is hard.

But here is what I know. Through the persuasion of the family, a hoarder agreed to surrender about 50 cats that had been living (along with the hoarder) in really horrendous conditions. The cats were being relinquished into the custody of a Story City Vet, Dr. Bright. She, in turn, contacted another vet, Dr. Deppe, for assistance.

At this point, I want to refer you to Dr. Deppe's Blog, Veterinary Rescuer, for her account of the travesty that happened at Story City. Here is the link:

As you can see from what Dr. Deppe has said, the majority of the cats did not have to be carted away in red tagged carriers slated for euthanasia. They could have been saved. Dr. Deppe herself had arranged for homes with fosters or on farms for the feral cats, which would have been a perfect solution.

Instead, it seems that ego and proprietary behavior got in the way.

Now, it's hard to find out if these doomed cats even existed. People who have asked the ARL about these cats have been stonewalled. Some who have contacted the ARL's Facebook page about this situation have been summarily banned.

No one admits to being "in charge" of the situation. Not the Story City PD, not the ARL, not the Story City one.

Maybe the cats didn't exist! That would explain why they disappeared -- but wait, Dr. Deppe was able to find homes for a dozen cats. So they did exist. But where did they go? Did ARL adopt any of them out? Did they euthanize them?

In Delaware, it is illegal now for an animal to be euthanized if there is any alternative -- an adopter, a rescue organization, a foster, whatever. What happened in Story City is now illegal in Delaware. There were people waiting for those cats. Dr. Deppe was going to treat the sick ones and perform any necessary surgery without cost or by raising funds from people willing to lend a hand.

In the end, 12 cats were saved, including one orange kitten thrown in at the last moment, according to Dr. Deppe, to appease her and giving her an even dozen.

The bad news, and the sad ending -- many of the cats who could have been saved, weren't. And apparently NO ONE was to blame.

The epilogue to this story: a group called Citizens for Animal Welfare Reform has launched itself as a means to lobby for passage of a law to protect animals from euthanization, to start with Iowa and get a law passed similar to Delaware's Companion Animal Protection Act. But CAWR doesn't stop there -- every state needs a law like this. This group has issued a call to action for people from all over the country to join them and help animals in the most powerful way they can -- by getting legal protection for them.

That's the real end of the Story City Story. I'm not a big proseletyzer, but I AM a child of the 60s, so I know the importance of grass roots movements.

If you want to know more about the Companion Animal Protection Act, see this blog entry by Nathan Winograd:

The End (of Euthanasia, I hope)