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Confessions Of A Cat Rescuer #8 - Confessions Interupted

Updated on October 26, 2011
Me before Spartanburg County Council, presenting the Animal Care and Protection Act.
Me before Spartanburg County Council, presenting the Animal Care and Protection Act. | Source

I Confess: I have been very, very, busy.

Now you may wonder, what could be so important that it would keep me from writing about the thing I am most passionate about? Well, for one, I started working again, which has taken out a huge chunk of my writing time, but on the good side has made it possible for me to keep my 28 fur-balls well-fed. Then, there have been the weekly doctor visits, lab appointments, and tests to see if my cancer is staying under control. So far, so good. Except for still being fatigued, everything looks good on that front.

But the thing that has kept me the most occupied may actually save more animal lives than I could ever save on my own.

About two months ago, the news media reported that our local shelter had been holding stray animals for three days instead of five days as required by state law. For those who may not know how the system works, let me explain why this was such a big issue - any animal that is not personally surrendered at an animal shelter is classified as a stray. This means that “strays” not only include unowned animals, but also include lost or wandering pets. So essentially, if your dog or cat got lost, you only had three days to find out (1) that it was at the shelter (2) find proof to show that the animal is yours, and (3) get the animal out before it is killed.

Most people do not even realize that a pet is missing until one day goes by, leaving only 48 hours to find and redeem the pet. So you can see that a three-day stray hold left very little chance that pets could be found and reclaimed. I can’t help but wonder how many family pets died because their owner could not find them in time.

Now, in all fairness, County law stated that the shelter follow a three-day hold, and it took a decision by the state Attorney General to say that county law could not do less than the state law required, so the shelter would have to hold strays for five days.

The situation blew up from there. The shelter, ran by a humane society, had already raised the rates they wanted to charge the county, which the county was refusing to pay because they had already budgeted what they could afford. Using the five-day hold as leverage, the shelter now asked for even more money, and then refused to take in any more strays until the money was paid.

In the midst of all this mess, the Lord put me in a position to do something unique. I am the Leader and Spokesperson of the South Carolina No-Kill Alliance, a social movement to stop the killing of healthy and treatable in animal shelters. I had been in contact with our shelter over some other issues and was hoping that we could work together to find a solution to the 80% combined kill-rate at the shelter.

But God had other plans. I spoke to my County Council representative and asked for a chance to address the Council at the next monthly council meeting. I was given three minutes to speak on the animal care issue in our county.

What could I possibly say in three minutes that could make any difference at all?

That’s when it hit me. I decided to go for all the marbles. Using the text of the Companion Animal Protection Act (CAPA), and a huge portion of information on feral cats that has been published by Alley Cat Allies, I crafted a proposal called The Animal Care and Protection Act (ACPA). ACPA would speak to the need for reform far better than I could in three minutes.

Now, I may need to stop here and explain. Last year our shelter killed 68% of all dogs and 90% of all cats that entered the shelter - over 14000 animals died. The CAPA bill is a series of mandated laws that require shelters to engage in life-saving alternatives to killing, to work with private rescue groups, to not kill if there are empty cages at the shelter, and to make the intake and kill numbers available to the public.

There are other things CAPA does as well, but the point is that anywhere a CAPA-based bill has become law, up to 90% of all animals entering a shelter system have come out alive! That’s a drastic difference to killing 80% of those who go in.

The ACPA is a CAPA-based bill that will save lives, save taxpayer money, improve public health and safety, and improve our citizen’s satisfaction with our county government and sheltering system.

In addition, ACPA sets the stage for a county-wide Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program for feral cats. TNR would save the lives of three thousand cats a year, allowing these cats to return their colonies and serve the public as free rodent control.

So, on October 17, my group made history as we introduced the first no-kill measure anywhere in South Carolina - The Animal Care and Protection Act. I used my three minutes of fame to speak on how ACPA will benefit not only the animals, but the county as well. The ACPA is now before Spartanburg County Council, and we are working to push Council to bring ACPA to a vote and pass it.

I have just finished an interview with Critter Magazine, and am trying to get one-on-one appointments with the members of County Council. So as you can see, I have indeed been busy. But I am thankful that this opportunity came up, for if ACPA passes in Spartanburg County, I will have been a part of a movement that will save thousands of animals, even long after I leave this world.

So, I ask you pray for me and for all the animals here in Spartanburg County. The greatest pain about all this is knowing that there will be animals who will die before this bill becomes law. If you live in Spartanburg County, please contact your County Council representative and ask them to pass the ACPA and institute a TNR program for feral cats.

I will keep you posted as our fight to save lives continues.



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    • Paw-Paw John profile image

      Paw-Paw John 3 years ago from Greenville, SC

      Thank you Triumphjetta for your kind words. I understand the pain, and I am glad this situation has worked out for you. I am hoping to start writing again soon. So much has happened since my last article. I also want to encourage you to look back over your own experiences and share them as well. There are many people who don't have a clue what rescuers go through. Education and honesty are the best tools we have to raise awareness. I am glad your level of kitties has become more manageable. May I also encourage you not to give up on the human race? Rescuers tend to withdraw and focus on their animals, but to be truly well-rounded and able to provide the best care, you must take care of yourself. Make and keep friends. Get away for a while. Do something for yourself. Take a break when you need to. I have had to learn to engage humanity once more myself. It has definitely been worth it. I feel more balanced and able to take better care of my kitties. I pray that you too will also be able to find a good network of friends who can support you if you do not have this already. God bless you for all you do for the animals.

    • Triumphjetta profile image

      Triumphjetta 3 years ago from Bolivar, Missouri

      PawPaw John, thank you so much for Confessions of a Cat Rescuer! I must admit I cried throughout reading the first post. It really touched me, I suppose because I knew exactly what you were talking about. I have been through so much of the same. It is my heart's desire to start a cat rescue and has been for quite some time. I am just very unsure of myself and concerned that I don't know enough about running a rescue, although I have been researching it for several years. I started out as you did, with one little cat. Later, I agreed to foster for a rescue, hoping to learn more about it, and over six weeks time took in 37 new cats and kitten, only to later discover that there was no rescue and I ended up saddled with all of them. Right then, our house burnt (no kitties were injured), my husband left me, and I suddenly found myself homeless with 57 cats and kittens in my care, not to mention my four horses. I could write a book on the trials and tribulations the next two years brought me, but I am happy to say we have survived it thus far, and I'm down to just 23 cats now. If you can imagine trying to find a place to live with that many animals and no income, while feeling utterly distraught over a broken marriage, it may give you an idea of what it was like. Not long ago, I finally got a break when an old friend rented me two old hog barns for just $150 a month. While it had no electricity, no plumbing that wasn't broken, the roof leaked and the walls were unfinished, at last we have a place to call home. In just three months, we now have electricity and hot and cold running water for the first time in two years and just last week got the major leak in the roof fixed. So things are looking up and once again I'm finding joy in my life. You are indeed an inspiration to me. Please keep writing this wonderful hub!!!

    • Paw-Paw John profile image

      Paw-Paw John 6 years ago from Greenville, SC

      Thank you Lucky Cats. It's been very crazy here. In addition to the daily responsibilities of taking care of my cats, I have formed two social groups to try to save the lives of cats in my County and in my state of SC, plus two Facebook groups for cross-posting SC dogs and cats. We are having remarkable success saving lives, but there is so much more to do. I have missed writing, and am working on three more stories that I hope to publish soon. My cancer reports have been good. I just stay so tired, it's hard to get much done. I hope things are going well for you. God bless you.

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      PawPawJohn, i am SO glad to see this hub and hear of your fabulous work for animals. Bless you! I have missed you...I've been very busy, too...all for my furry babies. Much love and well wishes for you and yours...I hope your tests are always positive and your efforts always successful. I have such high regard and respect for you!