Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Miami Animal Shelter by Melissa Rey



critterbaby.com


Melissa and I have been email buddies for a couple years now. She'll be a junior in high school and is a straight A student. (No surprise.) When she wrote me yesterday about these kittens, I was reminded of my own experiences with the Miami Animal Shelter—still a contradiction in terms.  

I wish Melissa’s story was a rare one, but mostly I wish she had met someone with a heart, who saw a kid trying to do what irresponsible adults failed to do, and I wish that woman had kept her big, stupid mouth shut. A pox on her and the people who dumped the kittens.

Melissa took the same route I did 35 years ago. She wrote about it. I have changed nothing in her story except to spell out the numeral 15.
 

My Experience with the Animal Shelter in Miami
Melissa Rey
There are moments in my life in which I am able to look at the world and have some faith in humanity. Yesterday, however, was not one of those moments. It was one of those days in which you witness such tragedy, that you no longer know what to think about society. It was approximately 3:00 in the afternoon in Miami, Florida, in an area that is rather polluted and very, very hot. It was about 95 degrees outside and the humidity made me feel as though I were in a sauna.
            I had an appointment in this area and as I prepared to get inside of my car after my appointment, I heard high-pitched meowing. Curious, I stepped out of my car and on the side of the road I found 3 kittens that had been placed in a black crate with a dirty cloth, some garbage, and a combination of rice and soil. The kittens were attempting to get out of the crate in an effort to find some shade, but they lacked the strength to get out. Their eyes were a beautiful clear blue, and I estimated they were about 2 weeks old. I could tell they had been deliberately left there as there is no way 2-week-old kittens can get into the crate by themselves and there is absolutely no way a mother cat will leave her babies. I was struck by the mental image of those little ones being cruelly ripped away from their mother and watched them as they huddled together seeking comfort.
            I now had two choices: I could leave the kittens alone so that they could die a lonely, torturous death where they would most likely starve, dehydrate, and bake under the hot sun or I could “rescue” them and take them to the shelter. I went on to pick up the kittens and sat in the backseat of the car with the kittens on my lap. On the 15 minute trip to the shelter, the kittens were so thirsty that they desperately licked the moisture on my arms. It was one of the most heartbreaking things I had seen in my whole life. They quieted as I held them in my arms and stroked their fluffy fur.
            Fifteen minutes later, at approximately 3:30, we arrived at the “shelter.” I was not impressed by the exterior. Quite frankly, the exterior of this “shelter” looked more like a death camp or prison. It was dirty, loud, and the employees were harsh and unhelpful. I was directed to this cat drop off area that was surprisingly clean. To the right of the wall were a series of cages that housed a variety of stray cats that had been rescued and were being put up for adoption. There were some people there in the process of adopting cats. For a brief moment, I was content because I thought these little ones would be put into a loving home. However, I was wrong. I was very wrong.
            When I walked in with the kittens, this young woman approached me telling me she was an employee. As soon as I saw this woman, my hopes began to go down. She had a very negative personality and her face told me that not only did she not want to be working there, but she did not care at all for those cats. I told her how I had found the kittens and after hearing my story, she told me to take them back to where I had found them. I looked at her with a combination of shock and disgust. I told her, “I can’t. They’re going to die.”
            She looks at me and she says, “They’re too young. Either you can take them back where you found them or keep them until they are 1.5 pounds and then bring them back. If you leave them here, they will be euthanized by tonight.” When she told me that, I felt very numb. However, I did not have a choice. I live in an apartment where cats are not allowed and I do not have the money to take care of 3 kittens anyway. Once again, I was faced with two choices. I could leave them here to die what I hope was a painless, quick death, or I can take them back and they would die a slow, torturous, and painful death.
            I had no choice but to leave them here. She pointed to a small cage by the window which was separate from the rest of the cats. When I attempted to put them in the cage, the kittens clung on to me and my shirt and I had to physically remove the cloth from their little claws. I couldn’t bear to watch them all snuggled up in their sad little cage, so I immediately turned away. This employee then gives me a paper which was titled “Good Samaritan.” On this paper, I had to put down my information so that the cats could be “put to sleep.” I had the urge to rip up this paper. At that moment, I felt like everything but a Good Samaritan. I had just given my consent so that three babies could be murdered.
            I walked quickly out of there, got into the car, and didn’t look back. My grandparents dropped me off at my house, and I just walked to my room and laid in bed. The moment I did that I broke down. I felt like an absolutely horrible person. The disgust and horror at what I had witnessed left me feeling sick. All I could think about were those kittens. I imagined their terror and discomfort at being put in a cold metal cage. I didn’t even want to begin to imagine how they had been euthanized or how their little bodies had been dumped into the garbage as if they were worthless trash.
            This is not just an issue in Miami. This is a nationwide crisis. This “shelter” does not have the right to be called that. It is a prison for the innocent and defenseless. This “shelter” is a death camp. My experience is not unique at all. This happens to thousands and thousands of poor, defenseless animals every year. If we do not have any respect and love for these defenseless creatures, how can we expect respect and love amongst our own selves? 

IMMEDIATELY AFTER THIS WAS POSTED, I GOT A CALL FROM A FRIEND IN MIAMI. THIS IS THE NUMBER OF THE CAT NETWORK. 1.305.255.3482.  

1 comment:

  1. I received this from Shelley Smith:

    I read the first few paragraphs of your blog today and had to stop. I knew what was coming. Reading about the fate of SO many animals that end up in such horrific places and never make it out, makes me deeply sad. I have something to counter that this week though. My son and his road warriors came over from Reno last week to visit and they camped at Caspar Campground. They got their tents set up, their "kitchen" in order and I went down to have a barbecue dinner with them. Joining us was a gorgeous, young little tabby cat who'd been there for more than a week according to the campground managers. They didn't know whether she'd been abandoned by campers, dropped off or wandered in by herself. In any case, she was extremely friendly, calm. purred at the touch of a hand, and was very relaxed when held. I immediately fell in love with her sweet demeanor and she was a looker and a cover girl candidate besides. I got some cat food at the little store and fed her. I decided that if she was still there after my kids left, that I'd adopt her. There was a big group staying at the next campsite (2 women with their 8 adopted kids) and they were extremely helpful and kind. I spoke with them, gave them my phone number and asked that they call me if the kitty was still around in a day or two. I didn't want to take her if she did in fact belong to someone else. Two days later they called, said they were packing up to leave and Miss Kitty was still just hanging around. I went down to the campground and got her.

    HUGE success. She adjusted immediately to my house, hissed a couple of times at my nosy dogs, took to the litter box as though it was old hat, found her food and water very quickly, slept with me on my bed at night, never tried to escape when the door opened, cuddled when I watched TV, and overall proved to be as perfect as they come. I've named her Annabel Lee (after the Poe poem that my dad used to recite to me) and she's going for her wellness checkup to the vet tomorrow. She's got a cleft lip. I think she's quite young but don't know anything else about her. I do know she deserves a good home and I just wish I could see all the stray and shelter cats in the universe also get one. I know taking in one cat doesn't make much of a dent in the problem but it does for that one cat. I now have two indoor kitties (Amber, the calico I adopted, and Annabel, my new girl) and four outdoor kitties who live very comfortably in my garage with soft, warm beds and plenty of food and water. Surprisingly, none of them want to come into the house! Caring for animals is a good thing as Martha would say!!

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