Homeless woman has too many cats

By isak, February 12, 2009

This small story in Tuesday’s USA Today caught my eye:

Hawaii: Honolulu — A homeless woman who has kept up to 19 cats in cages and shopping carts while she camps along streets is a target of a bill in the state Legislature. The measure would prohibit keeping a pet captive on public property for more than four hours and also would outlaw keeping more than 10 cats or dogs as pets.

I see a woman who has nothing to her name but she has the passion to do all that she can to protect 19 cats she has “taken in.” I mean, what is “taking in?” To those of us with a house, we bring them to our house. The streets are this woman’s house and she has taken them in to her house.

So rather than respect her efforts and reach out a hand to help her, let’s create a measure to attack her passion and perhaps take life away from 9 of these cats.

This is what I am not getting. There are so many cats and dogs euthanized each year, each month, each day because there are not enough homes for them. So when someone goes out of their way to help the homeless cats and dogs, someone else decides we need legislation to halt it. Surely it takes more energy to create legislation such as this than it takes to help this woman and create a longer reaching solution. How about we take an empty building and turn it into an adoption center and let this woman live there and run it? We help the woman and the animals. We already know she would be good at her job.

In small pockets all over the world there are people with more than the usual number of cats and dogs. And in some cases, the problem gets out of hand because spay/neuter is way expensive… $100-300 per animal.

But what if we looked at the problem from a different angle. What if we found ways to support these people? Develop affordable spay/neutering? Take those mobile units on the road to more remote areas. And what if vets would again make house calls? What if costs were based on an income bell-curve like grades in high school? If you buy your own vaccine and syringes and vaccinate your animals yourself, the cost is about $4 per animal. This does not include rabies, just your regular vaccines. $4 versus the $50 office visit plus $15 vaccination. $4 vs $65. Too much for many country folk.

What if we developed a program where people could be trained to do basic checkups, fecal floats and give basic vaccines in-home. Could we not find a grant somewhere that would cover the basic salary and gas for this service? Could vaccine makers not donate vaccines to the program? Perhaps vet schools could offer home visits as a semester class in their curriculums.

Before we shake our heads at those “crazy” people with all the cats and dogs, maybe we could look at the lives they are trying to save, the many cats and dogs no one wants… and maybe we could help them. We do not make it easy or comfortable for them to ask for help. I know because I am one of those “crazy” people.

What do you think?

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