Yesterday, I finally got a chance to give a hand to my local animal rescue.  I love animals and I admire the work these associations do (you might remember my article last winter).  However, it is not always easy to help when you have either no money or little free time…  I was thus delighted to have at last the opportunity to give a hand.

The Cork Animal Care Society does a brilliant job.  Anne Fitzgerald, who is one of the main persons working for the association, has a golden heart and works non-stop to help and save the lives of our furry friends.  I am not exaggerating, between feeding the kittens and rescuing animals in trouble she does not really have time for herself.  She has devoted her life to animals.

Yesterday, there was a volunteer fair in Cork and the CACS had a stall there.  Our job was to explain the role of the association and recruit volunteers.  The CACS does not have a rescue site – although they have a sanctuary for feral cats – but there are many other ways to help.  The way they work is that the animals they rescue go to a foster home before being adopted.  This means that the animals are already trained to live in a house and the fosterers know them well, so they can go to a family suited for them.  What this means as well is that the CACS is constantly looking for fosterers, especially in this season when new kittens arrive everyday.  Of course, they are also looking for adoptive family; however, fostering can be a good experience for people who are not sure they can make the life commitment of adopting a pet.  They are also happy when people are able to make a donation (helping to the costs created by such a high number of rescued, and sometimes injured, animals), organise a fundraiser or even just offer a lift (to go to rescue an animal or bring one to the vet).  However, and most importantly you can help the association by being RESPONSIBLE and part of our job yesterday was also to raise awareness about animal rights and the importance of neutering, but also the responsibilities that owning a pet entail.  Let me tell you, this is the most difficult job and the reaction of certain people reinforced what I already thought about Irish society regarding animals, especially cats.

A stray mum with her four kittens, two of them are females who will themselves have a few litters; I let you do the maths!

Neutering is a big problem in Ireland and the number of stray cats swells every year.  This is a sad fact when you know that many of these animals suffer.  It is also an aggravating factor in the spread of diseases.  Thee was a time when I thought how nice it would be to get a female cat and let her have a litter and see the little ones growing up.  Then, I realised how selfish this was.  How could I be responsible for bringing more kittens into the world when so many are suffering and looking for a home?  Nonsense!  If you want to see kittens growing up, get involved as a fosterer as many families are rescued at a young age, some having even lost their mother and necessitating bottle-feeding (a hard job, I guarantee you – you might remember my own experience with Gypsy). 

However, Ireland is very backwards where cats are involved.  I believe this is because farming and fishing are still an important part of the economy.  Although I like this aspect in Ireland, I don’t like the mentalities associated with it.  Cats are not seen as pets in farms, but rather as helpers to keep the mice away.  This is fine to a certain extent, but people need to become sensibilised about the consequences of not neutering.  How often do you hear “Ah sure! They’re cats they’ll be fine!”  No, they won’t; they are animals and deserve to be treated with respect.

Among the arguments I heard yesterday, this one seems the most ridiculous: the man wouldn’t get his male cat neutered because he had had one before and had got him neutered thinking that would prevent him from roaming.  Soon after, the cat went wandering and got killed on the road.  Consequently, the man was putting the blame on the operation.  He wanted to adopt a female cat but said with conviction that he would not interfere: if she were spayed, fine; otherwise, he would let her like that.  Imagine what would happen the day the female would come back pregnant?  Probably drop her on the side of the road…

(By the way, any serious rescue will either neuter the animals before putting them up for adoption or make you sign a form requesting you to get the kitten/pup neutered as soon as he has reached the desired age.)

Cottage Rescue, another Irish association (from whom I adopted Kaos), posted these 10 worst excuses for not getting your pet neutered on Facebook.  It is a good summary of the attitudes of too many people around here:

‎1. Just one litter and then we’ll have Fluffy spayed.
(Studies show that virtually the entire pet overpopulation stems from the “just one litter mentality.)
2. My dog doesn’t run loose, so he doesn’t need to be Neutered.
(Murphy’s Law says o…therwise.)
3. We always find homes for the kittens.
(and that means that an equal number of kittens at the pound will be killed.)
4. I want the children to witness the miracle of birth.
(Rent a video.)
5. My dog is so cute and unique, there should be more of her.
(The shelters and pounds are full of cute and unique dogs, most with only a few days to live.)
6. It’s not natural.
(There hasn’t been anything “natural” about dogs since we began to develop breeds thousands of years ago.)
7. I just couldn’t look my dog in the eye if I had him castrated.
(Watch it, you’re anthropomorphizing.)
8. A female dog or cat should have at least one litter for health reasons.
(Medically, factually and ethically indefensible.)
9. Neutering my dog will make him fat and lazy.
(Too much food and not enough exercise make a dog fat and lazy.)
10. Neutering my pet will change its personality.
(The main influences on an animal’s personality are the kindness and care with which it is raised.)
 

Anne (CACS), John (ARAN) and a pup at the volunteer fair in Cork (Pic: courtesy of Anne)

I really enjoyed doing this yesterday.  Despite being confronted with such backward mentality, I also met people with genuine interest.  I was also glad to meet the like-minded people who were representing the CACS at the fair.  Amongst them was John Carmody.  John is the creator of the Animal Rights Action Network (Aran.ie) and he is a true lover and fighter for animal rights. 

For those who have read this blog before, you might have guessed that I am a bit wary of mass activism or any other big group movement.  I tend to be frightened by ideological messages and the potential power they might have.  However, their cause is good and I am endowed with judgement and can make my own opinion about their actions and which I want to support.  I tend to strongly believe in the impact one person can have around her (you know, every little bit counts and adds up), but I am also aware that a group is stronger than an individual and groups defending a good cause need all the support possible to make a difference.

I was only vaguely aware of ARAN, but listening to John talk made me realise what they do – I guess meeting a human being rather than seeing a name on a webpage had an impact on me (see, the power of individual interaction works!).  They defend all causes related to animal rights.  They organise events to raise awareness, such as talk in schools, but also take action to get their message across and provoke reaction.  One of their actions involved women wearing fur coats and lying on the pavement with blood on them; a shocking action to an atrocious crime.  As a result of one of their campaigns, one major department store in Ireland, Brown Thomas, stopped selling fur.  Other causes they defend include the massacre of seals and the exportation of greyhounds to China.  I have joined their network and will follow closely what they do in order to offer my support when I can (by the way, they welcome supporter from anywhere in the world).  If you want to learn more, take a look at their website and read this interview.

Overall, this was a productive day and I enjoyed doing something for a cause I truly believe in.  The CACS has a website and a page on Facebook where you can follow all their updates (although there are sometimes too many to be updated) and you will see that I am not lying when I say they do an incredible work.  Try to look for your own local rescue and see how you can help them (be careful, some are scams).  But most importantly, act as responsible human beings and treat the animals with kindness; they are more genuine than many human beings.

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