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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-19-2013, 08:23 PM Thread Starter
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Animal shelters and vets

Hi all,

So this past friday my girlfriend and I went to our local animal shelter to see if we could volunteer with their cats. It's a very old shelter and they're building a new one which should be done in a month or two. The shelter is over 50 years old and all the cats are in 1 room in cages. I know that in the new shelter they plan on having the cats in rooms, not in cages, and thank god for that!! There were a few cats wandering around the room and there was a small window where they could go outside and play in an outdoor "Catio" (which we both thought was great). I'd say there were about 20 cages with cats. Around 5-10 were kittens, the rest were teenagers. Of the 20 caged cats, there was 2-3 who were very timid, and 1 who even swiped at me when I tried to pet him a little through the cage. The rest were SUPER SUPER friendly and wanted nothing more then some human affection. When we asked the worker why they were in cages he said because they weren't spayed/neutered and they don't want fights. Apparently they get spayed/neutered only when adopted, and then the owner pays for most of the procedure (which is $100 i think) and the shelter sends them some money back after it's done.

Maybe people here can enlighten me as to the logic behind this method. Logically, I would say that as soon as a cat is brought into a shelter, step ONE should be to neuter/spay it. Why would they risk adopting it out and the owner NOT doing it? Is there any better form of animal control?? So I assume that it's a financial issue. If that's the case, why are vets so greedy? If a vet truly cared about animals, can't they spend one day every week , or every two weeks and just spay/neuter these animals? Why are lawers REQUIRED, by law, to do pro-bono work, but not vets? It's not like they're worried about getting sued, these are owner-less cats! Why can't retired vets, who made money off animals their entire lives, not "give back" to them? Is that an unreasonable thing to expect? In the shelter that i got my kitten from, that's exactly what occurred. A retired vet would perform the neutering/spaying once a month, for a very low cost. So I can't say that NO vets "give back". And to those that do, you have my sincerest gratitude.

My girlfriend and I were just so upset that these incredibly loving cats had to be cooped up in cages because they weren't spayed/neutered, and the solution is so simple!!! What am I missing? Am I being unreasonable in my expectations?
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-20-2013, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by MyBabiesDaddy View Post
Hi all,
Maybe people here can enlighten me as to the logic behind this method. Logically, I would say that as soon as a cat is brought into a shelter, step ONE should be to neuter/spay it. Why would they risk adopting it out and the owner NOT doing it?
Where I live in VA, a cat is not fixed until it is adopted. It's not a matter of greedy vets, it's a matter of SO many animals and so little time. The vets at SPCA and Animal Control herre are terribly burdened not only with the shelter cats, but with all the low cost services they supply to every low income tom dick and harry that walk through the door with their pets. The shelter pets are not their only responsiblity. The cats in the shelters here get fixed by the shelter vets and are not allowed to be adopted out until they are fixed because the owners frankly can't be trusted to spend the extra $$$ to do it themselves. I also know that a good number of vets will volunteer their time to help when special cases come in (hoarder's pets abducted, etc.). You are doing God's work by volunteering at a shelter.

The cats need you and the shelter needs you. It is so upsetting to me to see a cat so anxious for love during the first 2-3 weeks it is in a cage, then slowly receed into the corner because it is not adopted and has come to terms with it's circumstances and now realizes that everyone just passes him for the younger, cuter version (yes, I know cat's cant reason like that!) but they do understand constant rejection.

I recently visited an 8 year old cat in a neighboring shelter that had been caged there since last August and never put in a communal room. A human volunteer talking to her for a few minutes a day is just not enough. She was so pathetic looking, cowering in the corner. Any hope of that cat being a social, loving animal was ruined by the good intentions of keeping her alive month after month after month. I often have thought that it would be kinder to euthanize her. Shelters are the saddest places on earth to me. =..(

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Last edited by Marcia; 01-20-2013 at 08:39 AM.
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-20-2013, 10:06 AM
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I don't know why so many people believe that vets are greedy and don't do their fair share for the animal community. Believe me they do, it may just not be visible to the general public.

There can be so many reasons for the program working the way it does right now. Maybe the kill rate is so high it doesn't make sense to do the surgery on an animal that may be put down in a couple weeks. Or maybe they just don't have the time or resources to redesign and implement the program. Do they have a surgical suite at the shelter? If not, do they have someone to pack up the cats and transport them to a vet and back?

Maybe you could volunteer to set up a program for them....

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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-20-2013, 10:14 AM
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Animal shelters and vets

I've never heard of a shelter not keeping cats in cages. The one I use to work at kept the new cats that weren't assessed yet in cages who arnt let out stall for 6 months sometimes. Sometime the cats who weren't getting adopted sat in cages for 3 years.

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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-20-2013, 10:22 AM
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There is a cat shelter in my local area and some of the cats are in cages some get to roam.
Some are let out on a supervised basis for a certain length of time a day.. All shelters vary i'd imagine depending on funding .. amount of people to work/volunteer to care for the cats.. amount of cats present.. usually in any shelter there is always too many cats .. Sad fact..

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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-20-2013, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by doodlebug View Post
Maybe the kill rate is so high it doesn't make sense to do the surgery on an animal that may be put down in a couple weeks.
That was the case at the shelter where I adopted Zephyr. (If you substitute "days" for "weeks.") They didn't feel able to put the money into individual pets when the majority of them were having to be put down in less than a week. Not saying I agree with this, just stating facts, but they didn't do anything medically for the cats they adopted out besides provide a voucher for the first vet checkup. I paid for everything else and arranged all his appointments, including his neuter.

I didn't mind paying - my cat, my responsibility - but it did make me worry that other people are probably sometimes adopting cats and never doing anything for them, including spay/neuter. I also worried that some of the cats might be carrying contagious diseases out of the shelter with them, or going to homes that will dump them if they turn out not to be healthy.

Honestly, though, I'd be hard pressed to come up with an easy solution for that shelter, so I can't fault them too much.

As for vets... like people in any profession, they're all different. Some are very profit-motivated and would never do anything they weren't exorbitantly compensated for; I've known some like that. On the other hand, I've known others who already provide their services at the lowest possible cost, who would bankrupt themselves and be able to help no one if they tried to do more free work on top of it. And there's everything in between. It just depends on the vet.

Some shelters keep cats in cages to reduce the spread of disease; a large number of animals in a small space can be terrible for contagion, and minimizing their physical contact with each other can keep them healthier. Some cats feel safer in a smaller space when they're in a strange place, and it prevents them from fighting or attacking each other when they can't be supervised. Again, I'm not advocating it as a great solution - just saying this is another area where there isn't always a simple fix for a crowded, overworked and understaffed animal shelter.

I think it's great that you're volunteering at a shelter! Thanks for helping the homeless pets in your community!

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Last edited by Blakeney Green; 01-20-2013 at 11:36 AM.
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-20-2013, 11:56 AM
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We have two Animal Control (city) shelters here near me. One is an old building, but the cages have been updated and are really nice. They are about 18 - 20" wide, but are multi level and about 6 1/2 feet tall The very bottom is private where the litter box is, then there are circular cut out allowing the cats to to as high as 6' off the ground! The cages are really nice!! They have a communal area in the center with a huge 6' round fence with a door for human access. Its a nice shelter.

The brand new $16M city shelter has a large room with cages that can be connected if room permits plus they have 2 10x10 or so communal rooms. I guess the fixed cats are in there. Lacey was in a cage all the way in the back of the building for some reason. They usually keep the sick or "issue" cats back there I thought.

The SPCA which is private has a large cat room with cages plus a couple small communal rooms - one for kittens and one for larger cats. All of our shelters are pretty nice here. I would guess that shelter's conditions depends on the tax revenue or donations if they are private. Most operate on a shoe string budget.

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Last edited by Marcia; 01-20-2013 at 11:59 AM.
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-20-2013, 12:12 PM
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Shelters are almost always underfunded, understaffed, and overburdened. I agree with the above posters. They can't afford to spay/neuter if an animal is going to be put down to make room for more animals.

I agree that the cats living in cages is horrible, but it's a necessary evil if the shelter doesn't have the funding to build open areas, spay/neuter, and keep the cats forever if it doesn't get adopted.

I agree there are some greedy horrible vets but I think there are an equal amount that do MORE than their fare share to make up for it.

I would suggest you contact that shelter and find out how you can HELP instead of thinking the worst of them. Better yet, get active with TNR and preach spaying and neutering to anyone who will listen. The less cats flowing into that place the further their limited funds/staff will stretch.
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-20-2013, 01:01 PM
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The shelter that most of mine came from has cages and free roaming cats but the cages (perhaps I should call the pens) are really big compared to what some people seem to be describing. They are multi level with climbing areas and have access to an outdoor and an indoor area. There are a few kept purely in indoor units because of medical reasons. Some actually live in the house itself.

They also spay and neuter as soon as the kittens are old enough. If they are two young to be done, there is an actual contract stating they must be spayed and they have an arrangement with a national charity to supply vouchers towards the cost.

I always end up wanting to take someone home but it isn't depressing at all.
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-20-2013, 01:26 PM
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This shelter is functioning on out dated ideas. They are probably a kill shelter. Its an easy problem to solve. That they are managing the shelter this way is pure ignorance esp with the information available via the internet.

Take a look at this heartwarming Utube of a small shelter in a small town that became no kill just from the vision of a police officer asked to manage it. A shelters success hinges on having a compassionate director & volunteers with a vision armed with good information.
How Seagoville Animal Shelter Became No Kill - The Little Shelter That Did! - YouTube

If you want a solution to what you encountered read the book
Irreconcilable Differences: The Battle for the Heart & Soul of America's Animal Shelters by Nathan Winograd. You will be encouraged.

Affordable s/n clinics are possible. They are funded by donations, grants, and vets which will donate time to do the surgeries. We have 4 that I know of in Tucson. Plus vets which will take vouchers handed out by shelter and rescues that the rescue will pay for the s/n that the vet does.


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With my hands, they will know comfort...With my action, they will be free...
~TNR and Rescue changes lives of animals.~

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