i just got off the phone with a nice lady who wants to start a cat rescue in her apartment. we talked about all the ins and outs and do's and don'ts but the biggest one is you just cannot safely do shelter based rescue unless you can afford to buy your own place (and i was having this exact conversation, earlier today too!). renting or even borrowing a place at no cost is just too great a risk and it is a waste of money too. i had to dump 12 grand of my own money into the place we rented for just one year...we needed fencing and lino and separate areas, we had to have a driveway we could actually drive up to unload all the feed and supplies. in retrospect it was a waste of time and money, i should just have waited out the year until i found this place to buy. and if i couldn't afford to buy and needed to depend on continued renting, the animals would always continue to be at risk. it is scary if you really think about it...what if i had a landlord here who decided he wanted to sell or wanted me out for whatever reason...exactly who else in their right mind would rent to me and almost 100 animals? do you know how many rescues in our area alone in the past couple of years, have had to pull up stakes and had to move somewhere else? some, over and over again.
i got a phone call last week from someone who had "rescued" ALOT of cats and was facing eviction, and she needed a place to stash them til she found a new place. not too many people i know can fit in another 75 cats, certainly not me... even if it is only temporary.
i had another call from a rescuer that needed to move out some animals cuz they were being inspected and they had more than they wanted to admit to so they decided to hide some off site.
i am sorry but you just can't rescue large numbers of animals at one time if you are living on the edge of a cliff. you need to know that you not only can properly care for the ones you take in, but you can deal with the consequences of whatever choices you have made (like fines if you are over the limits until you can get your numbers down responsibly) . if the spca came in here tomorrow...they would find alot of ill animals (not surprizing considering the kind of rescue we do), and on every single one of them, i can pull up vet records and current treatments to prove we are following medical advice. we have plenty of food on hand and in their bowls, there is fresh water in every room, the buckets of bleach are poised and ready each time they are needed. we can prove that this place was thoroughly washed and bleached today, even if the inspectors showed up tomorrow before the cleaning began.
no one can ever evict us or ask us to leave, as long as i keep the mortgage payments up to date and on time. and if we are considerate, respectful and concerned about our neighbors good will and happiness, we should be ok as far as complaints go. no one can even remotely suggest that our animals do not receive top quality, responsible care, and the clean, appropriate, comfortable beds, the on-going laundry swishing away in the machines, the plentiful food, is all right in front of your face.
there are basics that have to be covered before you start taking short cuts to realize a dream...short cuts can get you into big trouble and put the animals into the middle of a nightmare...not all that fair.
the only real risk that i see for us right now, is if i die unexpectedly or become permanently disabled...and even then there are plans in place and up to date insurance policies to ensure the animals remain safe.
anyway, i hope she heard me and understood what i said cuz setting up a shelter or a rescue takes alot of thought and planning unless you want to risk helplessly watching it all disappear some day and your animals getting scattered to whatever possible option can be found in a crises and on short notice too.
i am all for the girl scout motto.....always be prepared... potential rescuers need to engrave this motto right into their brain....it keeps the animals safe.
Urg! My post was somewhat rambled (need my morning coffee) so just wanted to clarify that: I'd encourage people out there to possibly foster if they want to help - even one animal, to make them more adoptable and then let them go if a good home is found. Thus allowing room for another to be saved. Every little bit helps. They also need room for isolation as a sickly animal may place all the others in perile. They have to be responsible to the ones already there. I myself, only adopt those deemed "unadoptable" (in other peoples eyes as I think they are wonderful) but only after all attempts are made to get that animal a forever home. I can only do this because I can quarantee a home for life. Renting while operating a rescue would be too precarious for the animal and your are right, Carole, it places them in jeopardy. I hope people listen to your words of wisdom.