Overcrowding forces Pet Rescue to stop accepting strays

11 years ago

Volunteers say 16 cats must be adopted before they can start helping other homeless cats

    CARIBOU — Despite sending 52 kittens to downstate pet rescues and shelters for adoption, Halfway Home Pet Rescue continues to struggle with the issue of overcrowding at their adoption facility. According to Norma Milton, pet rescue president and founder, this has been the toughest year she has seen in 40 years of animal care.

    “Since February, we have expensed almost $38,000 in animal medical care, hospitalizations, spay/neuter surgeries, surgeries for broken bones, ear and dental problems as well as serious frostbite problems, as well as many other serious injuries,” Milton said. “This expense is a mixed blessing for HHPR, because although it means the public is reaching out to us for help and, thankfully, we have opened our hearts and doors to them. It also means that we have rapidly depleted our financial resources, overworked our valued volunteers and had to finally close our door from admitting any more cats until we get more adoptions.”
    Milton explains that although the pet rescue is licensed as a humane shelter, its mission is really better known as a feline rescue and rehabilitation Center.
     “We don’t just worm, give the distemper shot and push the animal on for adoption,” Milton said.
    Instead, the shelter makes sure to test for Leukemia/AIDS, give multiple vaccinations like rabies and distemper, they test and treat for diseases and injuries, spay/neuter the animal if possible, treat for all parasites and then use preventive measures to ensure the wellbeing of the cats.
    After ensuring the animal is physically healthy, volunteers then start behavioral testing for the cat in order to determine what type of environment it would be most comfortable in. Milton said that, very often, a cat will go to a foster home to have more hands-on loving if it is shy, to work on relationships with dogs. A lot of the time, however, fostering the animals is simply a matter of wanting litters of young kittens to experience the fun and excitement of being in an actual home.
    “This is why so many people tell us that our cats seem to be so extremely loving to family members,” Milton says.
    Just because someone wants a cat, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that they can adopt an HHPR animal.
    “We have them complete an application, we reference check them, and then the adoption team decides together if the adopter would be a responsible pet owner,” Milton said, explaining that as a team of volunteers, they all have to agree that the adopter will provide a good home for the cat and no matter how crowded the shelter gets, they’re mindful not to hurry an adoption before the animal is ready.
    “We feel that the cat has been ‘trashed’ once. Once we have it fully recovered and adoptable, we want to be sure it is in the right place and doesn’t get trashed twice,” Milton said. But this extra-caring process, along with the unusual high demand of ill and abused cats this year, has simply stretched the adoption facility beyond its capacity.
    According to Milton, the adoption facility will continue refusing new admissions until at least another 16 young, healthy, happy adult cats have found permanent homes.
    Volunteers are hoping that their current influx of adoptable animals will find their forever homes by Dec. 1 so that the shelter’s resources can help additional strays as the weather turns colder and frostbite issues will begin to affect the felines.
    Adoption hours are held every Saturday afternoon from noon to 3 p.m., but other special appointments to see adoptable cats can be made by calling Mary Rowe at 999-1075.