Blog the Change for Animals: Speak Up
One of the biggest issues facing pets today is something we can so easily remedy and yet we fail each day—overpopulation. All we need to do is spay or neuter cats and dogs especially, but bunnies and ferrets and other animals too, and shelters would be able to more easily shelter the animals they take in, and the three to four million animals each year who lose their lives in shelters just because they are homeless—not counting the ones who perish on the streets from illness and abuse—would never have to suffer.
Today is “Blog the Change for Animals” Day which pet bloggers write about quarterly (more on that at the end) to raise awareness of the change we feel needs to happen in order to make animals’ lives more humane, keep them healthy, and let them know they are loved.
Talk the Talk
You just never know when a half-grown stray or feral kitten will show up.
And I never used to know when I should say something about whether or not a kitten is spayed or neutered, or whether anyone was caring for the feral cats.
I sometimes feel I’m risking being known as the “crazy cat lady”, but over the years I’ve learned to always speak up. Sometimes I’ve been embarrassed at my own eagerness, but usually I’ve been pretty glad I did because often I have spread information about low-cost spay and neuter and managing stray and feral colonies to people who really didn’t know this existed, or that while kittens are darned cute the appearance of one in certain situations could indicate the need for such activities.
On their Facebook page several years ago, the director of an urban environmental organization posted that there were kittens behind the office, then posted the photo above “for those who need a Friday kitten photo.”
I know their office is in a pretty urban area in the City of Pittsburgh, and it’s likely this kitten was stray or feral. Also, by her coloring, she was likely a “she”. In any case, I figured it didn’t hurt to say something, so I asked if the kitty had a home, and mentioned that they should trap and spay ASAP if someone else didn’t or they’d have some extra kittens soon. The author replied that he thought the kittens lived in the yard behind the office, and asked if I was a neighbor.
I answered that I was not, but that I was always concerned when I saw kittens or adult cats who might be stray or feral or headed that way, and I always offered a bit of information about TNR and spay/neuter deals at shelters, including the Homeless Cat Management Team (HCMT).
The author replied that there may already be a feral colony there because he saw kittens and cats last year, very skittish, and that he had a friend who was involved in TNR and would enlist her help.
In the meantime another reader commented to say thanks for the information, she hadn’t known about HCMT but was glad to find out the information and encouraged me to keep spreading the word.
I had been hesitant, but I was never more glad to have spoken up. I gave information to two people who are aware and will likely use it, and pass it on as well.
In years past, I would have headed over there to assess the situation, and if no one in the vicinity was interested in taking care of the situation, either caring for the colony themselves or trapping and moving them as was often done in days past, I would have returned with traps and tried to catch as many as I could myself, taking them home and getting veterinary care, altering, feeding and re-homing on my own. Ah, the bleak 1980s and 90s, too many cats and not enough programs, but I was glad to have found a few sympathetic vets who knew what I was doing.
Along came TNR, the Homeless Cat Management Team, early spay and neuter for shelter animals and aggressive spay/neuter programs for adult animals at shelter clinics, and a low-cost spay/neuter clinic. With more options and more awareness, I could get away with handing out sheets of information, posting flyers in the area and making a few follow-up calls. As my household grew geriatric and I was less willing to bring in rescued cats in miscellaneous condition, I had built up a network of concerned friends and converts who were glad for the information and I could focus on my rescues here at home, knowing I’d at least spread the word.
Walk the Walk
So now instead of doing the footwork, I do the social network—though I always carry good old-fashioned flyers with me which include the major low-cost spay and neuter opportunities and TNR programs in the Pittsburgh area as well as links to search for programs all over the United States.
I work with or am a member of a number of local conservation groups and visit their land, and also use local trails. I also tend to go off on painting and photo forays to uninhabited areas on the edge of town such as the now-empty steel mills and industrial areas, and along the waterways that run behind everything.
Often I see cats settled into these quieter areas that afford protection, but an easy run to a dumpster or someone’s back yard where they might be fed. I often have conversations with people who are totally off the network. I’ve posted HCMT and clinic information in these areas, talked to people on trails who say they always see the cats, and also handed it to people in their back yard who were sympathetic to the cats and fed them though they found it difficult to keep up with caring for them, but felt they couldn’t stop now that they’d started.
I also leave them at the register at my local Family Dollar where many people with limited incomes, from children to seniors, purchase food and supplies for their pets. The cashiers are my friends and have themselves taken advantage of the information on the flyers, and try to stuff one into the bag for people who have purchased pet food and supplies.
And I’ve also handed them out at swanky non-profit benefits and anyone who claims spaying and neutering is too expensive. You just never know where kittens may turn up.
And that led to my Resource Page
At one point I set up the information from the flyer on a page on this site, then began adding to it. I’ve maintained this resource page and over the years I’ve added to it and deleted as links have come and gone, but many are apparently pretty permanent. I’ve had quite a few views to this page even without promoting it so I’m convinced it’s a valuable asset.
The list of resources for pet owners in Pittsburgh and beyond is drawn from my own needs and the needs of many who have asked questions of me, and discussions with cat rescuers, dog rescuers and pet lovers no matter the issue.
I’ve included links to the following topics:
- Pittsburgh-area low-cost spay and neuter programs for pets as well as TNR for community cats
- National low-cost spay and neuter programs for pets as well as TNR for community cats searchable on the internet
- Pittsburgh-area after-hours emergency care
- National/international help with veterinary bills
- Pittsburgh-area pet-friendly rentals
- Pet-friendly rentals across the US
- Animal cruelty laws by state
- Links to Pittsburgh-area shelters for adoption and other services
- Links to online shelters for adoption
- Pet loss
I will continue adding to it and keeping links updated. Please visit the page.
Steal These Ideas
We can never share this information too often. Despite the fact that many of us have been stressing spay and neuter for decades, and sharing information about low-cost spay and neuter programs for the past decade or so, each day I meet someone who has had cats or dogs for years and had no idea such programs existed. Speak up. Our pets can’t.
Browse some rescued cats and kittens!
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This is “Blog the Change Day”
This is the day we pet bloggers affirm that we are working for the good of all animals and show support for people helping animals in need each 15th of January, April, July and October. We write about a cause near and dear to our heart and hope readers share their comments and ideas. I couldn’t even begin to share all the rescue stories that pass by me every day from all the people out there on the streets who rescue ill and injured animals and provide spay/neuter and veterinary care for cats who are homeless through no fault of their own.
Read the good stories and the sad stories and know it’s all to do good for animals.
8 thoughts on “Blog the Change for Animals: Speak Up”
That’s a really cute kitten on the picture! How I love kittens! 🙂
great post! i have a resource page and a community page on my blog. i love them. my animal resource page in nation wide and my community page is about san diego. you are one of the few animal blogs, other than county blogs, i have seen do this.
Paula, thank you too for posting this information! I got so tired of repeating myself, and then I even forgot things. It used to be that some people did not have computers and weren’t on the internet, and they were often the ones I wanted to reach the most, but now phones can browse the internet so I’m actually going to add a QR code for this page.
I’d love to link up pages across the country. Perhaps we can find out who else has one or is willing to post one?
This is a great post! What a great job you have done getting valuable information out to a lot of people over the years!
Thank you, Beth–it’s often information we are gathering for ourselves, why not share?
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We love the idea of the flyer, and of gathering the information into one place online. The head peep is so scatterbrained sometimes that she can’t remember the specifics at the right time, and having the information available in a central place for reference would be a big help. It’s going onto her project list with a reminder for six weeks from now when the schedule ought to ease up around here again. Thanks for blogging this!
Hey, Gang, the flyer actually came about after my own attempt to organize my little scraps of paper! Then I realized how often I was saying to others “give me your number/email and I’ll get it to you”, and I decided to make marigold-colored copies and carry them with me all the time. It’s definitely worthwhile, and you’re probably uniquely able to collect information in your area where someone who doesn’t rescue and foster wouldn’t have the same connections. Glad you’ll steal the idea!