Ark Animal Sanctuary – Week of October 2, 2019

I have thought a lot about the article that you are about to read to ensure I pick the right words and to  try not to judge people. While I realize we are human and everyone makes mistakes, I also realize that every day we make decisions that can change the course of someone’s life.  

While not everyone is in a position to help animals, we are all in a position to make good,  sensible decisions when it comes to the life of an animal. We are also all in a position never to harm an animal.

With that being said, this story begins with a phone call, a woman asking for help. She had two female cats that got pregnant and both had litters of kittens. She now had 11 kittens 12 and 14 weeks old, plus the two moms.  I immediately go on the defense. Why didn’t you spay your cats? Why did you let them outside knowing they weren’t spayed? Why are you waiting until the kittens are almost old enough to start reproducing to make this phone call?  Are they all healthy? Do they have fleas?

She had answers for every one of these questions, but they were not the answers I wanted to hear. I suggested she call the shelter her town contracts with. She had already done that and they wouldn’t take them because they do not take owner surrenders. I took her information and told her I would get back in touch with her. 

After I hung up the phone, I was angry and upset to say the least. The Ark was full once again and there were 13 cats that needed placement or soon there would be other litters born, making the numbers unmanageable. If the owner had taken care of the two females and gotten them spayed the cost would have been minimal. Now if we decided to take the cats the cost to us would be about $2,600. On average, we spend $200 per cat to get them altered, vaccinated, tested and treated for fleas and deworming. 

That figure kept going through my mind — $2,600 — and within the next 15 minutes I had made the decision to take the cats. A total of $2,600 or the lives of 13 cats? It was clear what was more important. A life is a life, and all life is worth saving. To us at the Ark, the money end is a mere formality which we always seem to figure out. The wheels were put in motion to coordinate the intake of the 13 cats.

On the off chance that someone could help us, I sent a message to a friend at the Presque isle shelter and told them the situation, asking if they had room for some of the cats. The response came back within five minutes — yes, they could help. I asked how many they could take and without any hesitation the response came back: they could take them all. That is when my happy dance started.

One message saved the lives of these 13 cats, a message that took about two minutes to write. I told them I would arrange transport to get them to Presque Isle that afternoon.

 I called the owner and she transported the cats to the Ark. I then called one of our volunteers, Karen, who dropped everything and headed to pick up the cats and transport them to Presque Isle.

When the owner arrived with the 13 cats I was ready to read her the riot act again, but when she arrived she was not what I had expected. She clearly loved all of these cats and had taken very good care of them. They were all beautiful. She was a person who had made a mistake and clearly did not understand what the outcome would be. Does that mean she is off the hook for her bad decision? No, but hopefully she has learned from this and history will not repeat.

In animal rescue you make contacts and friends and try never to burn any bridges because one day you will need help.  

Thank you, Central Aroostook Humane Society, for your teamwork and support and for always putting the animals first.  You are always there willing to help and support. Your organization is amazing and we are proud to have you as a friend and ally.  

They are the heroes in this story. They stepped up to the plate and helped 13 cats have a chance at a happy, healthy life.

 I have to be honest. There are days when animal rescue is overwhelming. You are not sure you can solve the problems in front of you and help all the animals that come into your life. You are not sure where you are going to come up with the money needed or the place to put another animal. You are tired and broken — and then you look into the eyes of the animal in need of rescue and all of that seems secondary. You get your strength from their heartache and you push forward because they are the reason you do what you do. At night when you lay your head on your pillow you are exhausted, but it is a good exhaustion because you managed to help another animal and save another life.

 Thank you for your continued support, and as always, thank you for reading our column.

The Ark Animal Sanctuary is located on 101 Old Woodstock Road. To contact Lorraine Monfils call 532-7387 or check out their Facebook page. 

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