Rescue Journal

i want to tell you something about sheltering animals

Carol  ·  Dec. 9, 2009

you damn well better be totally honest with yourself when things ain't going really well. we have three starting to sneeze cats tonight, add them to snickers (who is really sick with the full blown virus) and we now have 4...3 long termers who ought to be immune to the different virus's that float around here from time to time...and tonight they are no longer immune. (ok, the 3 are really old cats with other problems, but they don't need a cold on top of that)

you damn well better have your eyes wide open and see what is staring you right in the face. the only new cats in here in the past several weeks are both 2 new indoor cats...they came from private homes and did not bring the virus in here with them.

so two things are happening....first, there are too many cats back there...15 for those 2 small rooms and the open travel hallway is probably too many...10 would be better. AND we are not keeping it clean enough. winter is here...doors and windows are shut, it is a perfect breeding ground for disease. the same thing happened over in the feline leukemia area a year ago...it just got a basic once over at the end of the long day and germs breed and accumulate where ever and at every opportunity that they can. since helga took it over, coming several times a week...you not only could feel the cleanliness spreading, every single week...but those sick cats got better. we still have the occasional sniffles in there (the cats are all terminally sick with no immune systems) but the viral symptoms never really progress very far. helga and now louise do not let the germs get into the environment, they clean them out before they can reproduce.

i remember the months of multiple antibiotics and seriously sick cats while we fought to get in control of that area and we did get it back to where it should be..but it was a lot of freaking hard work and worry.

it looks to me like the same thing is happening in the back 2 cat rooms...and trust me it IS a sign from god. clean it up, keep it clean, get the sick cats well again or the freaking shelter plague curse of unhealthy and unhappy animals will be upon you....and that kind of hell, none of these animals need.

so here is the thing..i am not going to lie to you and tell you that sheltering multiple animals does not come with inherent risk. i am not going to tell you that we do not struggle with our own burden of responsibility in this.
what i will tell you is this...we know when things are not going well..we know when we have to pull out all of the stops and pull up our socks and get back on top of some things. and while we also know it happens in the best of shelters, we know that just because it happens does not mean it continues..it means we do whatever we need to to get the virus cleaned out of here so the cats feel good and are comfortable again.

soooo....yeah, yeah, yeah...i know, you have heard it before but you heard it for all of the wrong reasons. you heard me say i was not taking in any more because we were too full, because i was afraid, because there were too many,because there was too much work...and i still took some in (actually not that many, but still TOO many) because they were going to die if i didn't.

well now i am saying it because the ones we have are starting the downward cycle of animals who were healthy a few weeks ago, are now starting to get sick...and i know exactly what that means. i don't need a crystal ball to see where that could go...somewhere that the animals don't want to live in.
and if the worlds animals die because our doors are closed.... oh well, sorry to say, it is not my problem...these guys are, here and now.

so here is my promise, my word and my bond, saints doors are closed to everyone now...god sent me a few sneezing emails and i am paying very close attention to him.....i now see where we were going and i am turning around...i don't like that dark road i see ahead of me.

Comments

Tammy

That's okay, Phebes and I know the truth. She is the best, sweetest, and cutest dog around. She's as great as a cat.

Carol

they are truly amazing people...we are VERY lucky they take care of all of us (even me) so very well!
(tammy is a little bit delusional about phoebe but hey..phoebe thinks it is great to finally be considered a "good" dog by somebody!)

Liana

what a great "community" your volunteers are.
The lack of ego is refreshing, so cool to see such a group just in it for the "saints".

Tammy

Yes Phoebe looks good in black but to match her spirit she needs a bright vibrant colour you can see from across the field.

Colleen

Phoebe is a delightful spirit! TONS of attitude and spunk. I LOVE that in a dog. ( said from someone who is not dealing with her 24 hours a day )

Harv...he is a love. I soooo wish I could bring him to the loft, but with Henry being a visually impaired pup of 7 months ( who is a crazy ass ALL the time )that ain't gonna' happen. Harvey needs a sweet soft home, because he is a sweet soft cat. )

Tammy, go through the coats in the shelf/cupboard directly across from the washer and dryer. There are some very cool NEW winter coats in there! ( or at least there SHOULD be....if you can't spot them come and get me, I'll be outside *barning* )She was in a dull blue coat today...soooo not your Phebes!

Tammy

Ouch. Phoebe has many fans, they just don't want to admit it. At least I'll always admit to idolizing her , even when she does show her bitchy side. Right now she is having trouble adjusting to the cold weather.

Lana

I thought Harvey only had eyes for me! I guess he is quite the ladies man..lol. Yes, shirts with Harvey would be great but I don't think you need to pluralize the word shirt for Phoebe's fan club since you are the only member!

Tammy

Wait a minute, isn't he my Harvey?
Looks like Harvey has quite a fan club. Perhaps we could all get shirts with his picture on it (or shirts with Phoebe's picture since I'm the president of her fan club).

Erin

ok laura but i wanna learn how carol wants it done too. but i ll gladly hang more with buddy and sissy (and felix and angel and and and). maybe i can take champ for a walk?

Colleen

Hmph! I thought he was MY Harvey. Not sure why, but dang I have a soft spot for that boy.

Laura

Lana and I have dibs on the back cat room this Saturday.(Lana is worried for her Harvey since he is fiv)

Dorina

Hi, sounds to me like everyone is doing their best and I am sure that those wonderful animals there love you all.
SAINTS is on first place again!!!! Eeeeiiii...vote, vote!!!!!
Love and kisses from Jack!!!!

Carol

it is past the bleach the floors, clean the boxes, fresh food and water erin....the issue is the walls, the windows, the corners, the beds, the bowls themselves...everything is going to have to be stripped out of there every single day, washed and bleached, all surfaces scrubbed down.

liken it to the ICU in the hospitals that suddenly are a breeding ground for psdomonas or super bugs all of the time..it happens over a period of time of sick people contantly bringing in new things.... bacteria and virus' find a hold and start growing in places that aren't done every day...that only get done with "deep" cleans.
the only way to get rid of it is to get to everything, everyday consistently then you wipe out where ever it grows and keep it from growing back again by not letting their blankets stay on their beds for 2 or 3 0r 5 days at a time, by covering their perches on the cat poles and changing them every day too...by washing out and bleaching all food and water bowls meticulously every single day, by getting into the corners and wiping down the walls, the cages, the hidey holes, the litter boxes and the windows with disinfectent where someone might have sneezed.

it is not anyones fault..(unless someone is purposely not cleaning decently so our cats get sick which i highly doubt)..it is 5 years of accumulated exposure to sick cats coming in here and bringing their various bugs with them and finding places to grow.

and it is the real daily danger of sheltering. the physical shelters themselves become breeding grounds of disease IF you do not recognise the risks and jump as soon as you have the slightest indication that a problem area is brewing...three cats sneezing is our warning bell.

cleanliness is godliness in shelter care..it cannot just LOOK clean..it has to FEEL and BE clean because it is the invisible things that accumulate and start to turn a shelter in the wrong direction.

there is no doubt that i am a germaphobic but i have good reason to be..i know what happens if things slip down too far..so i freak out, and i scare the shit out of everyone so all of us scramble to win the war before we lose it forever.

i will not even consider one day sliding into that sad acceptence of a stinking disease ridden shelter because that is the "reality" of rescuing cats in a no kill communal shelter...it is not my reality, it does not have to be anyone's reality if they don't want it to be.

it is a matter of choices and solutions without excuses to breaking down roadblocks and challenges to be where i want to be....which is in a meticulously clean environment beyond what we actually "see"

the pee and poop on the floor from the incontinents every morning is easy...we see it, we clean it...it is the stuff we can't see that is the issue.
for cats..that is whereever multiple cats touch and hang out...litter boxes, food/water bowls, fleeces and beds, couches, chairs, shelves, walls and windows that they sneeze on and spray droplets of virus around on.

germs i can't see but know are still sitting there. that is how we now have to clean to get it out and keep it out of here.

it is a lot of work intially and everyone, everyday has to be on board with the same goal...and then we do what helga and louise have done with the felv's...we maintain it really well, everyday, and never let it start to slip past us again.
we got a wake up call..i am awake, everyone is awake..this is a good thing for the cats and for saints,

Lynne

erin i have seen how much you do in those cat rooms. once a week is not going to keep them clean all week. you are doing a great job and so is monika.

Erin

i clean those cat rooms every week so if theres something more i should be doing or am not doing right TELL me! we certainly cant be having those guys sick because of us.

Colleen

YAY to Helga ( a more than dedicated volunteer, she LOVES those kitties! ), and YAY and thank god Louise is a staff member! ( She is a walking cat health book ) They both are incredibly invaluable. The cats would all agree I am sure. Kudos to you both!