It's Raining - Cats and Dogs!
I’m pretty sure the person who first said, “It’s raining cats and dogs!” must have been an animal rescue volunteer during a Texas Spring! This is FOJA’s first puppy/kitten season and our first Texas severe weather season - and let me tell you, we’ve been BUSY. The calls, messages, and emails have really been rolling in, usually several each day. Fortunately this month, we have been able to reunite several pets with their people, find bottle feeders for some abandoned kittens, rescue a box of dumped pups from a busy highway, and just this morning, some Good Samaritans rescued a kitten hit by a car and were able to find donors to cover the surgery it desperately needed to survive. Yep, that's just in the past few weeks.
We've also been working to raise funds, plan our membership kickoff event scheduled for Saturday, July 6, at the Made in the Shade Courtyard, set up community education events, organize adoption events for the animals in our care - and more.
But along with the sweet successes and careful planning, we’ve also had a lot of heartbreak. Many of the folks who get in touch are looking for a place to drop off animals they have found or don’t want anymore, and without open foster homes, we are very limited in what we can do. We can post pictures via social media - and that is often successful - but many folks just don’t understand that we are not animal control and we are not an animal shelter. This blog post will hopefully clear up some of the questions that come our way.
Didn’t FOJA take over the Humane Society/Dixie shelter? No. FOJA does not now and has never had control of the Humane Society of Marion County entity or location. FOJA is a completely separate, completely independent entity and simply took responsibility for the remaining 50+ dogs that were released to Marshall Animal Hospital, helped raise funds ($16K+) to cover the costs of their care beyond what HSMC contributed, helped most of them find homes, and continues to care for those not yet adopted. We are also fast becoming the go-to group in the area for lost/found pets and unwanted litters. But we remain an all-volunteer, foster-based organization and do not have a shelter.
Why doesn’t FOJA just use the old site? Even if we had possession of or access to the HSMC site, it is unusable and possibly a health hazard. It is not a proper shelter, just an assortment of dilapidated out-buildings, an old concrete foundation, a metal structure open to the elements on all four sides, and a collection of chain-link holding pens. Waste from unhealthy animals - and the carcasses of animals whose cause and manner of death are unknown that may be buried there - have possibly contaminated the concrete and the soil. Some disease-causing organisms can live in concrete and soil and affect animals (and sometimes humans) for a long, long time.
So, without a physical shelter, what does FOJA do? FOJA isn’t even six months old yet, and we continue to discuss how we can best serve our community in the future. Here is what we’re doing now:
We provide in-home shelter and care for the still-waiting dogs from the HSMC. We have five dogs remaining with one adoption pending. A few of these last animals will likely remain in our care for quite some time due to trauma. Trixie, pictured below, is one of our foster dogs and she is recuperating from a persistent parasitic infection, gaining weight, and learning how to be a beloved pet with her fantastic foster family now.
We promote adoptions of remaining Dixie dogs and other animals needing homes in our area. We do this by attending adoption events and sharing information via social media and this website. Our next event is Saturday, May 18, at All Cypress Veterinary Hospital's Open House. Come for food trucks, petting zoo, pony rides, information about services All Cypress provides - or puppies. (Hint, hint!)
We educate our community and raise funds for low-cost spay and neuter programs and other vital services like vaccines and heart worm prevention. We’ve already had one information session about Trap-Neuter-Return programs for feral cats and more outreach sessions are in the works. And thanks to the hard work of Laura Goldman with Paws & Claws On the Bayou, Animal Protection League will soon be providing low-cost basic veterinary services including spay and neuter right here in Jefferson. We can hardly wait to support this endeavor!
We help lost animals reunite with their people. We do this through social media and it is fairly effective. Our posts are seen by thousands of people each week and each like, comment, and share helps get the word out.
We recruit and support families who foster animals prior to permanent placement. Fostering is the ideal pre-adoption placement for a companion animal. It allows the animal to decompress in a comfortable environment, work on house manners, recuperate from any underlying health issues and trauma, and learn to socialize with adults, and often, children and other animals. A happy, healthy, well-socialized animal is a more adoptable animal with a better chance of successful permanent placement. The more fosters we have, the more animals we can help. (That's another giant hint!)
We inform the community about best practices, ordinances, and legislation that impact the lives of companion animals as well as human residents of our community. Many of the issues facing us are systemic and require large-scale solutions at the city-, county-, state- and national-levels. Community support for these initiatives is vital - but the community can't chime in if they don't know what's going on.
It will likely continue to “rain cats and dogs” in our community for some time and we are brainstorming and investigating how we can help going forward. It's a huge undertaking, but we also know that with continued dedication, hard work, sacrifice and the support of people like you we can make things better for all of us. Thank you for all you are doing to help. Please stick around as we work out details for more ways to improve the lives of our residents - furry and human alike. And remember to mark your calendar for May 18th's adoption event and for the July 6 membership kickoff party. It's going to be a lot of fun - but it will be more fun if you are there!