120 cats reportedly "rescued" from a mobile home in St. Anthony, Minnesota.
We have seen the tragic saga unfold before: dozens or hundreds of animals neglected at the hands of an animal hoarder, a person likely suffering from a combination of obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizophrenia. The condition causes people to accumulate animals, usually cats, but sometimes dogs, rabbits or other animals.
The animal victims of people suffering from this condition usually display a variety of medical or behavior issues as a result of their lack of care and the overpopulated conditions in which they lived, which is not a surprise to anyone who understands animal care or animal behavior.
What is a surprise is that the organization charged with "saving" these felines is likely to use their medical and behavioral issues as an excuse to kill them, when doing so is unnecessary. When that happens, the animal victims of these cases are then re-vitimized by the organization reported to have "saved" them.
Because we have seen this happen before, I was saddened, but not surprised, by recent news reports that the 118 cats "rescued" by Animal Humane Society from a mobile home in St. Anthony, Minnesota were likely "unadoptable". "Unadoptable" is a catch-word in the "humane" community used to explain-away the killing of animals.
Even more telling is this quote from a Humane Society representative:
"The cats are receiving medical examinations at the Golden Valley facility. It is uncertain at this time if any of the animals are adoptable as AHS veterinary staff are seeing signs of health and behavior problems that are indicative of animals that come from these environments.
"According to Kathie Johnson, director of animal services, situations such as these are tragic. 'From start to finish cases like these are so unfortunate. These not your typical house cats. They are damaged from their marginalized environment—both psychologically and physically. It is a tragic situation—and difficult for our staff that is now forced to make the difficult decisions now that they are in our care.'"
It sounds reasonable, I guess. The problem is that it is just not true.
I know a little about these cases. Animal Ark has been involved in several ourselves. The largest case involved about 800 felines left to fend for themselves in a fenced compound in the middle of the Nevada desert. The picture provided here is from that facility.
The cats in Nevada had received so little care that some had resorted to cannibalism in order to survive. The animals suffered extreme medical problems, ranging from severe dehydration, emaciation, puncture wounds from fighting for resources, infections and more.
In some ways the behavior concerns were almost worse than the veterinary issues. Most of the animals were thought to be "feral" or completely unsocialized to humans.
In spite of the obvious obstacles, the rescuers of the Nevada cats did not see their issues as reasons to kill the kitties. These 800 felines were lucky. They were rescued by the no kill sanctuary, Best Friends, in Kanab, Utah.
Rather than killing the cats, Best Friends put out a national call for help. Volunteers from across the country stepped up to help. Veterinarians donated time and supplies. Foster homes took in unsocialized cats and began working to tame them. It was an effort of unprecedented proportion. In the end, nearly every feline was saved.
Animal Ark was proud to have assisted with that rescue, taking in, caring for, and training dozens of these felines. When they first arrived at Animal Ark, several of the Nevada cats could only be touched with training wands, gentle sticks used to get the cats used to being touched, without putting their handlers at risk. Nearly all of these cats have already been placed into homes. There are a couple remaining at the shelter, sweet, loving kitties who have gradually learned that people are friendly.
From this perspective, it saddens me that the Animal Humane Society would so quickly deem the cats "rescued" from the mobile home in St. Anthony as "unadoptable". If 800 feral cats can be rescued from the desert in Nevada, I am pretty sure we could save 100 cats from a trailer in St. Anthony, Minnesota.
Animal Ark has emailed and called Animal Humane Society offering care for these cats. Emails and phone calls have not been returned. Additionally, while I subscribe to many animal rescue email lists in Minnesota, I have heard no requests for assistance for these unfortunate felines.
By all appearances, it looks like AHS plans to do as they have done before: simply kill the victims.